THEORIES AND THEORISTS Erik Erickson Born: 1902
Died: 1994 Country: Danish—German– American
Erik Erikson was born in Germany to Danish parents. He shifted to Denmark and then to America when the Nazis came to power. His mother was married twice but Erik was the son of a third relationship. At his Jewish school he was teased for looking Danish and at the Danish school for being Jewish. Perhaps this is why Erikson developed his psychosocial theory to understand how we each develop our individual identities: why some of us are independent and others needy; feel able or useless; optimistic or pessimistic. He believed people develop through 8 stages. At each stage there is one important problem or issue to solve in order to develop a healthy sense of self. We will look at the first 3 stages and important for our practice as early childhood educators. WHAT HE TOLD US Trust versus Mistrust (birth - 1 year) - Baby Stage Babies are learning about the world. If a familiar person comforts them with a gentle voice or touch, feeds them when they are hungry and changes them when they need it, they learn that the world is not too scary. They develop hope. Later they will be able to deal with hard times and distress. But inconsistent or harsh responses teach them to mistrust the world. Later they may feel unable to deal with life’s challenges. Autonomy versus Shame (1-3 years)- Toddler Stage Toddlers are learning many new skills; to talk, walk and feed themselves and they are also learning toileting. Their task at this stage is to learn to be independent. We hear them say things like “I do it!”. But they are also vulnerable. If adults do too much for them, or make fun of their developing skills they will feel shame and doubt their abilities. When children succeed in developing skills they gain courage and will, both of which will help them continue to explore and learn.
Initiative versus Guilt (3-6 yrs) Kindy/Preschool Stage Kindy kids spend lots of time in purposeful play, particularly make believe. They act out the adult roles they see around them. They may play at families, or bus drivers or teachers. Their natural curiosity also leads them to ask lots of questions. When they are supported to plan their own activities and develop their understanding of the world, children develop purpose. This will help them in all their later development. If adults take too much control they can learn guilt instead.
SOME THINGS WE DO • We try to match babies and
educators so they form warm attachments. • We respond warmly and consistently to babies’ needs. • We talk gently to babies if we can’t pick them up or deal with their needs right away. Baby carriers provide a warm and gentle touch and leave our hands free to do other things while keeping us in touch with baby’s needs.
in to children’s interests and skill levels and offer just enough support to help them do things for themselves . •Provide a variety of play experiences so they can explore and choose what to do. •Never pressure them into toileting before they are ready.
This toddler loves bike riding. Educators provide a range of ride on toys for developing abilities and children decide when to tackle the next skill level.
The buckets are filled, but children choose when and how to use them
play spaces with lots of movable parts so children can organise and develop their own play • Invite children to contribute to the program, what do they want to do • Respect their play and give them time.
This Resource Sheet has been prepared by the Yorganop Indigenous Professional Support Unit WA. © Yorganop The Yorganop Indigenous Professional Support Unit is an initiative of the Inclusion and Professional Support Programme, funded by the Australian Government.”