Have you ever been just completely blown away by something you’ve discovered? Like the fact that Reno, Nevada is farther west than Los Angeles, California? Or that the official plural of Prius is Prii? Or that 1 in every 4 million lobsters is blue? Who knew, right? Well, that’s exactly how I felt when I discovered that I’d already decided by age 2 if I could trust people in general and the world around me! #WhatTheFreak?!!!!!  

This discovery resulted in the research which profoundly affected my parenting, my teaching, and ultimately my livelihood. I LOVE sharing this information because it is important. It is vital. It is life-changing. 

Beginning in infancy and continuing on through adulthood, our development is directly affected by the significant people in our lives. The way we think and feel about ourselves and the world around us is largely dependent on those we’re around every day. The people who care for us, and the way they care for us, when we’re small directly impacts who we will become as adults. 

My research on the adolescent life stage was built chiefly on the work of the developmental psychologist, Erik Erikson (1902-1994) who is most widely noted for coining the term “identity crisis.” His basic and far-reaching premise was this: the persons who create our social environment will dictate, to a great extent, the resolution of conflict in the present stage as well as influencing our next stage of our development. 

He broke our life cycle down into 8 Stages of Development and the internal decision we make in each of these critical stages:

  1. Infancy: Trust vs. Mistrust (Hope)
  2. Toddler: Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt (Will)
  3. Early Childhood: Initiative vs. Guilt (Purpose)
  4. Later Childhood: Industry vs. Inferiority (Competence)
  5. Adolescence: Identity vs. Identity Confusion (Fidelity)
  6. Young Adulthood: Intimacy vs. Isolation (Love)
  7. Middle Adulthood: Generativity vs. Stagnation (Caring)
  8. Late Adulthood: Integrity vs. Despair (Wisdom)

Each stage brings a broadening of community. As we get bigger, our world gets bigger, more peopled, more varied in ideas and conversation.

The way we interact with our current world is a result of perceptions which begin early on. Now THAT’S worth talking about!

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