Do you have a little one in your life?
Whether it is your own child, a niece, a nephew, or a friend’s child, chances are we all have a little one in our lives. While we all notice the main developmental milestones such as eating, crawling, walking and talking, we often overlook the emotional development of the child. Fostering strong emotional development is key in children, allowing them to garner key life skills such as self-awareness, emotional regulation and relationship building.
Emotional development in humans is often understood through Erik Erikson’s 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development, which posits 8 key stages in an individual’s development. Below is a summary of the 8 stages, along with their key challenges, and the strengths individual’s usually develop through these stages.
Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development: Theories of Childhood: An Introduction to Dewey, Montessori, Erikson, Piaget, and Vygotsky (2nd ed., p. 54), by Carol Garhart Mooney. Copyright © 2013.
For children, the first four stages are instrumental to their emotional development. Positive Psychology explains the importance of each stage:
1. Trust vs. Mistrust
In the first 12 months of life children are completely reliant on caregivers for survival, and require stability and nurturing. If children are provided with this, they tend to gain confidence and feel secure in the world. If children do not receive what they need during this stage, they can become emotionally detached due to feeling insecure, fearful and anxious about their environment.
When the balance of trust and mistrust is found during this stage, it allows infants to develop a healthy emotional attachment, and to develop the virtue of hope, where they feel that when faced with crisis there is someone there to support.
2. Autonomy vs Shame and Doubt
Between the ages of 1 and 3 children start to develop independence and more control over their physical body. During this stage caregivers tend to give children more choice, allowing them to become more independent and take responsibility for themselves (think getting dressed, playing with different toys). If this increase in independence is matched with support from caregivers, it allows children to feel more confident in their abilities. However, if children are not supported during this stage and are criticised, it can be harmful for their self-esteem, and lead them to be reliant on others. The right balance of support here and independence here allows children to become autonomous in activities.
3. Initiative vs Guilt
The years between 3 and 6 tend to be when children begin to test their assertiveness in social situations and become inquisitive about the world around them. If children are too restricted in this stage, where they are exposed to parental control/criticism, it can result in them feeling guilty surrounding their curiosity or assertiveness. However, if supported correctly, children learn to feel capable and secure, where they trust themselves to use initiative and having purpose.
4. Industry vs Inferiority
The final stage in children’s emotional development occurs between the ages of 6 and 11 years. During this time children are immersed in the world learning new things. At this point other individual’s begin to play an important role in the child’s life, such as teachers and peers. These individuals will become important to the child’s development of self-esteem, supporting them as they face new challenges. If well supported at this stage, children can learn to feel competent and accomplished, trusting their abilities. However, if not supported properly, it can result in feelings of inferiority.
While this may seem overwhelming, the key takeaway from this is that children are rapidly developing in many ways during their early years, with emotional development being an important one. Although the above highlights how you may best support your child, there are additional tools you can utilise to help your child’s emotional development, such as breathing exercises!
It is never too early to teach your child the power of the breath, and the difference it can make in situations that they may not be able to regulate their emotions. To find out more about how Glow For Life can assist your child with exercises to assist emotional regulation, follow the link below and submit an enquiry!