What Is Psychosocial Development?

what does psychosocial mean

Stages Of Development

As babies grow and develop, they face a series of demands that once mastered allows them to move on to the next life challenge. Theorists in psychology use the term, ”stages” to illustrate the different aspects and common characteristics for the challenges and demands we confront during our growth and development. If you’re reading an article in Parents magazine you might see the terms, “developmental theory “or “classical theory” when the author discusses either a stage of cognition, personality or ethics. But no matter the domain all stage theories assume that there are universal stages of development we pass through from infancy to adulthood. And, the ordering of the stages is fixed, meaning they can’t be skipped or reordered.

I want all first-time parents to underline or highlight the next few sentences.

Please, don’t stress out if you read an article stating, “at five months old babies understand “object-permanence”, meaning that an object still exists even if your infant can’t see it. And suddenly you realize that your six-month-old still cries when you hide your face playing peek-a-boo. Just because your child hasn’t mastered object permanence at five months doesn’t mean he or she isn’t developing normally. Children progress from one stage to another gradually, and may exhibit behaviors from other stages at the same time; developmental stages aren’t an all or nothing process.

object permanence

Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Theory

Erik Erikson first published his eight stage theory of human development in his 1950 book Childhood and Society. The chapter featuring the model was titled ‘The Eight Ages of Man’. The word ‘psychosocial’ is Erikson’s term. It’s derived from the two source words, psychological (or the root, ‘psycho’ relating to the mind, brain, personality etc) and social (external relationships and environment), both at the heart of Erikson’s theory. Both he and his wife Joan, who collaborated as psychoanalysts and writers, were passionately interested in childhood development, and its effects on adult society. HIs work is as relevant today as when he first outlined his original theory, in fact given the modern pressures on society, family and relationships – and the quest for personal development and fulfillment – his ideas are probably more relevant now than ever. See more…

Erik Erikson's  8 developmental stages

Erik Erikson’s psychosocial theory contends that there are eight specific stages in our life in which a specific issue is predominant and significantly affects our development and personality. He refers to these specific time periods as, “psychosocial crisis stages”. Each stage in Erikson’s theory consists of two opposing  forces such as , “Integrity versus Despair”. As with all of Erikson’ stages, “Integrity versus Despair” occurs at a pivotal point during your adult life, after 65 years old; a time in your life when your growth potential is high but you’re vulnerable. We navigate through the stages by negotiating and finding a balance between the two opposing attributes, of  “Integrity” and “Despair”. Attaining a balanced outcome in any of eight stages results in acquiring character strengths, which Erikson refers to as, “basic virtues”. Basic virtues are the characteristic strength of, Hope, Independence, Purpose, Competence, Sense of Self, Love, Care, and Wisdom.

stages of debelopment

Acquiring the basic virtues creates resilience and prepares you to face the next crisis. If a critical stage is left unresolved, it can affect your ability to function, cope, and negatively impact your sense of self. But, an imbalance in one stage doesn’t condemn anyone to complete failure in the next stage, although developmental progress can be slowed or made more difficult to achieve.

psychosocial issues

 Developing Your Newborns Sense Of Trust

The first stage centers on the infant’s basic needs being met by the parents. According to Erikson, “Trust vs. Mistrust” is the most important stage in a person’s life. Babies depend on their parents, especially mothers, for food, sustenance, and comfort. The degree of trust that your baby develops is dependent on the sort of care you provide. It is the quality of your relationship with your baby that’s essential to developing his or her trust and inner self-esteem. How your child understands the world and society stem from their interaction with you. If you expose your newborn to warmth, regularity, and dependable affection, their view of the world will be one of trust. The major developmental task in infancy is for babies to reach out to their social environment for nurturance with the expectation you’ll satisfy their needs.

does your baby trust you

If you’re a consistent source of nurturance, comfort, and affection, your infant learns trust- that others are dependable and reliable. If you’re neglectful, or perhaps even abusive, the infant instead learns mistrust- that the world is in an undependable, unpredictable, and possibly dangerous place.

Parenting: Your Newborns Psychosocial Needs

Remember to cuddle, play and talk to your newborn. Furthermore, for your child to develop a sense of trust, and view the world as safe and reliable you must meet your baby’s physical and psychological needs and quickly relief their discomforts. Have confidence in your parenting skills. Your self-confidence helps your newborn establish feelings of trust and security for themselves and others.  Children who received inconsistent and unreliable care from their parents develop fears that no one will meet their needs. They view the world with a sense of doom and withdraw from interpersonal contact. Be reliable and consistent with the love and care of you new baby and they’ll develop trust, optimism, confidence and security.

your baby's trust


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By | 2017-07-06T11:29:30+00:00 |Categories: Learning And Development|Tags: |
  • Pamela — I didn’t have children so haven’t been aware of the stages of development. But I’ve read how important the first days of a baby are when they need love and hugging. As you probably know, there are volunteers in hospitals that hold abandoned babies to provide that important early nurturing and human connection. Thanks for such an interesting post.

  • My daughter-in-law just had a baby and because it is a late in life
    child she is getting so much love and attention. You can really see how
    happy this child is. When we were younger and had children we had no
    idea of the stages, but the parents today I think have a better

  • What daughter-in-law just had a baby and because it is a late in life child she is getting so much love and attention. You can really see how happy this child is. When we were younger and had children we had no idea of the stages, but the parents today I think have a better understanding.

  • Excellent article, Pamela. Parents are so fortunate these days to have access to so much useful info — such as this about Psychosocial therapy, which I’d never previously heard of.

  • SafariOnTheBlog

    Great Post Pamela and very informative. Very helpful to new parents in regards to a child,s development and well being. Thanks for sharing.

  • Susan P. Cooper

    Great post Pamela. I’m sure it will be helpful and reassuring to new parents to be who are at a loss for how to be a good parent. Cuts past all the extra advice people give and right to the heart of the matter. 🙂

  • Per the Erikson chart, I certainly hope that my fellow BHB-ers in the 40-to-65 age cohort are being generative and are not stagnating. 🙂

  • Tim

    Great article Pamela and very informative. I had no idea about this stuff however I did realise that everyone reaches developmental stages at their own pace which I imagine is a great thing for new parents to come to grips with.

  • Really fascinating Pamela and now having a better understanding of the developmental stages it’s easier to understand the stress experienced by first time parents. Although, gotta say I believe I know a few adults who have yet to master object permanence. 🙂

    • LOL! That happens to me everyday when I look in my closet!

  • It sometimes feels that hypothetically ‘keeping up with the Jones’ in this day and age is incredibly damaging. So many studies and metrics seem to add to the pressure for parents, and their offspring to be ‘with the average range’, but then, but then everyone can’t be average that’s the way statistics work!

    • Good point Rosalind. Children’s development is scattered and there’s a range to “average”.

  • I can see why first-time parents tend to panic. I seriously spend quite a bit of time worrying that I am doing the right thing for my dog. I can’t even imagine the mess that I would be if I had a real life person to look after. I guess you can just do your best and hope that your child is growing up healthy and happy.

    • That’s funny, I read the entire “Dog Whisper’s”book series when I got my dog!. I even joined Cesar Millan’s website!

  • Krystyna Lagowski

    Isn’t it interesting how early we learn about trust? Parents really do have their work cut out for them. Fortunately, these days, there are some excellent resources. People used to joke, why don’t babies come with a set of instructions? I guess that’s almost true!

    • People tend to believe”parenting” skills suddenly sprout wings when babies are born.

  • The basic virtue image is great! I shared it. Thanks for sharing this information. I always learn something new from your posts.

  • Jacqueline Gum

    What an informative read. I mostly love that you state that babies progress at different rates. With so much information published about babies today, I see new parents freaking out if their baby isn’t right on target! As a child in the 50’s, I can remember being hospitalized as an infant! I remember, because in those days, parents were made to stand at the doorway of the ward and wave to their kids! They weren’t allowed bedside. That’s probably why I remember it so vividly at age 2 – I was so scared.

    • Wow, things have changed. I believe If my baby were hospitalized nothing or no one would have come us. That’s when the,, “Jersey” in me would have surfaced. 🙂

  • Catarina Alexon

    “If you’re a consistent source of nurturance, comfort, and affection, your infant learns trust- that others are dependable and reliable”, was recently proved by academic research and covered by leading publications all over the worrld. They also discovered that children who grew up like that were more successful.

  • Phoenicia

    Great read! What a responsibility we have as parents, especially mothers. The first few years are so crucial to a child’s development and well being. From a young age they know when they are loved and cared for. I often watch with interest as my son rushes into my arms when he falls over or hurts himself. He has complete confidence and assurity that I am going to comfort and cuddle him. This is based entirely on how I have interacted with him since he was born.

    • Thank you Phoenicia, You’re right about parents responsibilities, they are tremendous. Raising children is a total commitment jammed packed with duties, responsibilities and obligations.


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