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Comparing and Contrasting Jean Piaget and Erick Erickson Theories on Child Psychology

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Development psychology has changed a lot since the 20th century. Two theorists whose impacted child psychology and early childhood education are Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson. This essay will compare and contrast the contribution of these two theorists, Also their study of various development stages, the similarities as well as their differences in their theories and significance of the stages. Erik Erikson developed the most common theories of emotional development. Jean Piaget developed the most common theories of cognitive development.

Jean Piaget Cognitive theory focused on the different stages of a child where they alter from one stage to the other follows an order. It is important to investigate the concepts that form the bases of his theory. Firstly is the issue of schemata that he professionalized as the mental structure that represents the world. Through the learning process, children change their schemata by adapting, due to assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation adds new information to the existing schemata while adaptation modifies new information into the schemata. Ideally, there is balance between assimilation and accommodation to ensure stability. He developed the four stages through observing children. He believed all children follow these four stages in order,

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To begin with the first step is the sensorimotor, this stage is during the infancy till two years of age period. During this stage the infant gains mental images begin to form while images of objects remain engrained in the child’s brain. The second stage is Preoperational during this period the child is about two to seven years old of age. Symbolic thoughts start to develop, during this stage reasoning as is not important at all. The next stage is the Concrete period, this is when children from the age of seven to eleven starts to learn to reason, do mental mathematics, as well during this stage children start to look at things with different perspectives. The final stage is the Formal Operation period it occurs from the age eleven to adulthood. At this stage is when abstract thinking is the center stage, during this stage hypothesis development and deduced reasoning become easier to comprehend.

Erick Erickson was well known for his Psychosocial Development Theory. His theory was developed much later than Piaget, but he developed eight unique stages across a human’s, his theory describes the way the person deals with hurdles at a stage determines the aftermath as well. The first stage is Trust versus Mistrust this stage happens when a child younger than the age of one. Erikson’s theory says during this stage the infant is totally dependable on the caregiver. It feels safe when the infant is with its parent. In the other hand when the infant is not with its care giver, it feels as if its safety is minimized and fear starts to develop. The second stage is Autonomy versus Shame and Doubt; this period takes place between one to three years of age. The child starts to gain some independence by observing basic life skills. When they child accomplish its goal, it feels secured but when the child doesn’t accomplish its goal it starts to self-doubt and be insecure. The following stage is the Initiative versus Guilt, during this period the child’s age is three to six years old. They start to become more aware of the social environment. Children start to plan activities, make up games, and initiate plans with others. If given this chance, children develop a sense of initiative. During this stage the child will begin to ask many questions such as “why” or “how” as their hunger for knowledge grows. Too much guilt can make the child slower to interact with others and could affect their creativity. Guilt is of course necessary sometimes; if not the child would not know how to self-control or have a conscience. If initiative and guilt is evenly balanced it will lead to a virtue of purpose.

The fourth stage is the Industry versus Inferiority, during this stage the kids is between the ages of six to twelve, during this period the kids are at the point when they are learning to write and read and do stuff on their own. The kid now feels the need to prove himself to fit in society and gains pride or popularity by doing things that are popular in culture. The fifth period is Identity versus Confusion at this stage the adolescent is between the ages of 12-18, during this age the adolescent is developing into an adult. At this time of life, the adolescent is searching for a sense of self identity through a personal adventure for self-values, goals and beliefs. The sixth stage is the Intimacy versus Isolation, during this period the adult is between the ages of 18-40 at this point relationships start to become an important factor for the success of the individual,

If this stage is completed a person can result in a healthy relationship and a sense of commitment, safety, and care within a relationship rather than just from family. Family intimacy, scare of a relationship or commitment can lead to loneliness, and sometimes depression. But succeeding in this stage will lead to love.

The seventh stage is Generativity versus Stagnation during this stage the individual is in middle of adulthood approximately between the ages of 40-65. The adult experiences a need to create or nurture things that will outlast them such as raising children or being more productive at what you love. If a person seems to be failing, it will feel as if he or she is unproductive and doesn’t have anyone who cares for them. The final stage is Integrity versus. Despair at this point the adult is about 65 plus years old. During this stage one tends to slow down productivity and starts to live in retirement. At this time is when one observes their accomplishments and gain integrity if we see one’s life as leading figures and successful. Erik Erikson believed if one sees their lives as unproductive, they feel guilty about their past, or may also feel that they didn’t accomplish their life goals, one becomes dissatisfied with life and develops despair, usually leading to depression and hopelessness.

Some of the differences of these two theorists are Piaget views on adolescent is a rational being with rational thoughts. Erikson says that at this stage is when the teenager focuses on independence and in decision-making. The theorist also differs in the fact how they view the stages occurs. Piaget says a person may not go through all four phases of his theory; an individual influences their own world. Life experiences determine development according to Piaget’s theory. Erikson believes going through all the stages up to old age is seen as important in explaining the development process in one’s life. Both these theorists have some similarities, such as examining the issues of developmental psychology using phases to explain the process. Each of the theories determines that each stage has different challenges in the developmental process. Erickson and Piaget built on the idea that personalities’ development takes place across a person’s life span. Therefore, individuals get inspired from their surroundings through the learning process.

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