Researchers in the field of child psychology divide a child’s development into different categories and phases. Through these, researchers can make sense of why these changes take place. These also shed light on how a child’s environment and culture influence their development.
What are some major theories in the field of child development?
There are many studies about children’s developmental stages. However, only a few significant theories have withstood the test of time. Below are a few of the most recognized in child development.
Freud’s Psychosexual Developmental Theory
Sigmund Freud is famous in the field of psychology because of his notable works on psychoanalysis. His theory dealt with how children’s “sexual” and aggressive desires determine whether or not they will become well-adjusted adults.
In his theory, “desires” refer to instincts or appetites, which are considered motivators of human behavior. His approach also revolves around the erogenous zones like the mouth, bowel, bladder, and genitalia. According to this theory, a child’s development goes through five stages:
Oral phase (0-2 years of age) Desires at this age are all derived from sucking or biting things.
Anal phase (2-4 years of age) Children at this age are potty-trained. Here, they learn to control their bladder and bowel movements.
Phallic stage (4-7 years of age) Children at this age are concerned about their penis or clitoris.
Period of latency (7-12 years of age) At this stage, sexual developments are on hold.
Genital phase (13 years of age and older) The individual begins developing an attraction to another.
Freud’s psychosexual theory proposed that early experiences had the most significant power to mold a child’s development.
Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development
Erik Erikson based his theory of psychosocial development on Freud’s. However, Erikson’s theory involved crisis or conflict between a person’s psychological and societal needs. The outcome of these conflicts affected a person’s personality development.
This theory has eight stages, namely:
- Mistrust vs. trust
- Doubt/ Shame vs. Autonomy
- Guilt vs. Initiative
- Inferiority vs. Industry
- Role confusion vs. Identity
- Isolation vs. Intimacy
- Stagnation vs. Generativity
- Despair vs. Ego Integrity
Erikson’s theory also went into detail about what stimulation a child needed in each respective stage to become a well-adjusted adult.