Essay on Initiative Versus Guilt

Published: 2021/11/15
Number of words: 517

Erik Erickson developed one of the influential theories of the psychosocial development of a child. He postulated that a child’s personality as he develops takes a predetermined order of eight psychosocial development stages. He focuses on the development of the ego and how a child develops ego strength. Erickson defines ego as a child’s capacity to unify his experiences and activities adaptively. In each stage, the child faces a psychosocial crisis that positively or negatively impacts the reinforcement of personality(Orenstein & Lewis, 2020). The crisis results when the child’s psychosocial needs conflict with the needs of society. This paper provides an in-depth analysis of strength and the developmental stage of initiative versus guilt.

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A child develops strength through a continuous conflict-driven process. Therefore, as a child faces a crisis, he has to negotiate and adopt a healthy development and strength of ego. A crisis means that normal child development does not occur smoothly, but the ego can be garnered through a series of conflict resolution.

Initiative versus guilt is the third stage of Erickson’s psychosocial theory(Bastable & Dart, 2014). Here, children become more independent in doing their things and working towards their goals. Besides, the child has already gained a primary sense of independence at this stage and will start to adventure in broader social spheres(Orenstein & Lewis, 2020). The child seems to have garnered surplus energy that makes them resilient and forgetful of their failures and adopts new approaches with greater enthusiasm. Besides, these conflicts are influenced by the child’s culture and society beliefs and practices. Consequently, if a child negotiates a crisis positively, the child attains ego strength that increases his internal strength and leads to healthy development. However, if unsuccessful resolved, the child decreases ego strength.

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However, the advancement of children gaining strength has limitations to child’s development. The child’s adventure and exploration of new activities require him to obey or disobey parental boundaries. Consequently, these children must consider the conflict of parental control and the urge to try new things. In addition, the child has to the strong stimulus to initiate exploration of new things and the negative impact of feeling guilt, parental control, and surveillance(Bastable & Dart, 2014). For instance, children learn by initiating, planning, and achieving goals by interacting and playing with others at school. By initiating, they develop a sense of responsibility as they have to oblige the limits of teachers and parents. Those who obey develop strength while the others become counterproductive by feeling guilty.

In conclusion, it is evident that when a child faces a crisis, he has to negotiate it appropriately to develop better ego strength. By doing so, the child during the conflict resolution develops an ego strength of purpose that leads to the healthy development of the child.


Bastable, S. B., & Dart, M. A. (2014). Developmental Stages of the Learner. Jones and Bastable Publishers, 22.

Orenstein, G. A., & Lewis, L. (2020). Eriksons Stages of Psychosocial Development – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. In StatPearls Publishing.

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