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Human growth and development are fundamental for the existence of a society. In this regard, a number of scholars have come up with theories to explain the concept of growth and development. As Marilyn (2010) observes, early child development is crucial in human life. Growth and development are gradual and take place at different stages. Erikson’s theory of development explains the concept of human development and the stages that are involved. Unlike Freudian theory of development, which points out that the personality of an individual is identified at the age of five, Erikson’s theory refutes the claim and states that human development is continuous and covers one’s life span. Erikson’s theory of development has eight psychosocial stages that people pass through in their life.

The stages, identified by Erikson, include: the first stage is Trust vs. Mistrust, the second stage is Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt, the third stage is Initiative vs. Guilt, the fourth stage is Industry vs. Inferiority, the fifth stage is Identity vs. Role Confusion, the sixth stage is Intimacy vs. Isolation, the seventh stage is Generativity vs. Stagnation, and the eighth stage is Integrity vs. Despair. A number of milestones characterize these eight stages of child development. They signify the end of a given stage and the beginning of the next. The focus of this paper however, is the fourth stage, Industry vs. Inferiority, how it emerges, and the factors which influence feelings of competence. Erikson’s development theory fundamentally argues that development is both qualitative, due to stages one has to pass through, and quantitative.

Erikson’s fourth stage of development occurs at around the age of six years or during puberty. At this period, a child is curious and wants to come into the world of knowledge and work. The emergence of this stage is characterized by the conflict between opinions and demands of a child. During this period, a child is sensitive to everything he/she encounters in life. One significant feature of this stage is the introduction of a child to school system. At school, the child gets acquainted with books and other learning materials. Learning process is not restricted to school but continues at home and on the streets. Erikson’s theory explains that a successful experience a child gets at this stage gives him/ her a sense of industry, competence and acquirement of intellectual skills. The feeling of competence and mastery is prompted by success and a sense of acceptance: it is necessary for a child to realize that the things he or she is doing are right. Parents’ approval and guidance are important at this period.  It is noted that failure at this stage provokes a sense of inadequacy and inferiority. It is, therefore, important to advise a child at this time to realize that failure is a challenge so that he/ she moves on to the next stage.

Experience and interaction in school play a big role in developing new skills (Trawick-Smith, 2003). Children not only learn from their learning resources but also from their peers. The presence of different children from various backgrounds offers an opportunity for a young person to learn about new cultures. This knowledge, coupled with learning in school, makes children acquire industry and competence. The feeling of industry lays a foundation for greater challenges in child development. Parents should, therefore, allow their children to experience the adventures of this stage of child development. This will contribute to shaping a child character for a prosperous future life.

In conclusion, Erickson’s theory of development is important in the analysis of the growth and development of an individual. It is significant for parents to understand these important stages in the life of the child. This will help them to take their children through Erikson’s eight stages of development. Given that early child growth and development is crucial for future endeavors, it is the responsibility of the society to ensure that a child is given priority.

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