Children become who they are as adults according to validating experiences they have in childhood. If they grow in an environment full of love and support, then they develop skills and competencies that will help them become well-balanced and functioning adults. However, if their upbringing is wrought with negativity and without the emotional and physical support needed to develop them into responsible children or adults, then the children turn out to be insecure individuals. Children develop a sense of pride in their accomplishments when they receive encouragement support for their initiatives, while they develop feelings of inferiority when they do not receive positive reinforcement for their initiatives.
Erik Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development states that from age five to 12 years old, children learn to read and write, do math problems, and create stuff using their hands and imagination, among others. When they are praised for their efforts, they learn to become industrious, which further inspires them to learn even more and become creative. However, when they receive negative feedback or are ridiculed for their efforts, children begin to develop feelings of inadequacy and inferiority, which leads them to doubt their capacities as individuals. These negative feelings could hinder them from developing into full functioning individuals and reach their potential (McLeod).
In a personal interview with Christina Albert, 11 years old, she reveals that she learned to read and write even before she began attending school because her parents taught her early and encouraged reading at home. Even her older siblings are avid readers, thus, it is not a surprise that she also developed a love for books early. Reading is not the only activity encouraged in the Albert household. According to Christina, her mother allows her to do crafts and artworks at home, which gives her the freedom to create something from nothing. Her mom also helps keep track of her artworks by keeping her portfolio neatly placed in her “mini” studio.
Furthermore, Christina claims she shares her knowledge with classmates and friends, thus, apart from her parents and teachers, there are also other people who appreciate what she’s doing. This inspires her to learn and create more as she knows her peers are also rooting for her. When asked if she ever feels pressured to do better at school or with her artworks, Christina reveals that she doesn’t feel pressured at all because she is able to balance her schoolwork and her activities, thus, she still receives decent grades for her efforts. It also helps that when her parents notice she’s displaying a haughty and arrogant stance, they correct her behavior right away. As a result, she has very good relationships with her family and friends, including her peers at school. It also helps that her parents encourage independence, which allows her to make small decisions when necessary.
Erikson’s contentions about the fourth psychosocial development (industry vs. inferiority) seem to agree with Christina’s disposition. It is during the school age period when a child learns that there is more to life other than her family members, that there are rules to follow when it comes to relating with other children, and that studies are important if one wants to succeed in life. Thus, a child with a healthy disposition learns about trust, independence, inventiveness, creativity, and industriousness, while a child who grows up mistrusting those around him will always doubt the future and himself. As a result, this child will grow up insecure and with feelings of defeat and inadequacies in life.
Albert, Christina. Personal interview. 7 October 2013.
McLeod, Saul. “Erik Erickson.” Simply Psychology. 2008. Web. 8 October 2013. <http://www.simplypsychology.org/Erik-Erikson.html>.