Erikson’s third stage of psychosocial development occurs when the child is in preschool, during the ages of 3-5 years old.
Erikson believes all preschoolers must assert a sense of initiative or be left with a feeling of guilt. Initiative is the ability to devise actions or projects and having a sense of confidence and belief that it is okay to do so, even if making a mistake or failure is a likely possibility. Erikson believes if preschoolers do not learn to take initiative, then they will be left with a sense of guilt, self-doubt and lack of initiative.
During this age, children often are regularly interacting with other children, which provides them with the opportunity to explore their interpersonal skills through initiating play and other activities. Children at this stage will often make up games and initiate games and activities with other children. By taking an initiative, preschoolers can explore the world around them, discover things and develop a sense of purpose. By taking an initiative, preschoolers can explore the world around them, discover things and develop a sense of purpose.
Parents, caregivers and siblings must find balance between giving preschoolers enough space and encouragement to foster a sense of purpose and confidence, and to protect against danger, while allowing for trial and error so they can make mistakes and learn from them.
Freud’s phallic stage in preschool-aged children parallels Erikson’s stage, where a preschooler will explore and develop a sense of purpose. The phallic stage has to do with the genitals and masturbation. At this age, children begin to discover (or explore) the differences between males and females.
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