Saturday, May 28, 2016

Initiative vs. guilt

Erik Erikson's third stage of development is known as initiative vs. guilt. At this stage children begin to develop confidence and carry out activities. The way parents and other adults respond to their children's goals affect children's self-esteem. If children are allowed to take the initiative to accomplish activities on their own, their self-esteem increases. If parents don't allow children to take initiative, they may feel guilty about their ambitions and their self-esteem will decrease.

For example, if a child wants to perform in a play and a parent encourages them to try out and practices lines etc. with them and the child gets the part, their self-esteem will increase. The child's perspective will be, "I accomplished something. I took the initiative and put the work into it and accomplished my goal." If a child wants to be an ice skater and the parent tells them they can't do it and all the ways they'll fail and the parents don't support them, the child will learn their goals and they as an individual don't matter. The child learns it doesn't matter whether you take the initiative or not, the goal won't be achieved because the parent has told them they'll fail, how quickly they'll do it, and all the ways they'll fail and give no support to the child's goals.

 Important questions parents should ask themselves are: Do you want to teach your children they are capable or incapable? Do you want to take the time to teach your children how to be capable of a certain activity or task or not? A parent can take the time to teach a child how to feed themselves, ride a bike, drive a car and how to take care of it or decide their children are incapable. These are some of choices parents have along with what kind of parent they want to be (see my post on parenting styles).

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