top of page

Our Parenting Alphabet - D for Development

What stage of emotional development is your child at?

Knowing more about when and how children develop those important and keenly awaited prosocial behaviours such as empathy, the ability to manage impulses, and emotional literacy, can help parents and carers to understand their child better. As a children's therapist, I have quite often found that parents can hold pretty unrealistic expectations of their child's emotional development, feeding into frustrations about their child's behaviour.

The fact is, that children are not mini adults. They have brand new, immature brains, which develop directly in relation to the world around them. For example, a 6 year old is still learning about consequences, and a 4 year old is naturally egocentric. Most often, our children are doing the best they can within their ability at the time.

Let's have a look at psychologist Erik Eriksons 8 stages of Psychosocial development throughout life.



Important Events


Infancy (birth to 18 months)

Trust vs. Mistrust



Early Childhood (2 to 3 years)

Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt

Toilet Training


Preschool (3 to 5 years)

Initiative vs. Guilt



School Age (6 to 11 years)

Industry vs. Inferiority



Adolescence (12 to 18 years)

Identity vs. Role Confusion

Social Relationships


Young Adulthood (19 to 40 years)

Intimacy vs. Isolation



Middle Adulthood (40 to 65 years)

Generativity vs. Stagnation

Work and Parenthood


Maturity (65 to death)

Ego Integrity vs. Despair

Reflection on Life


In the growing brain, we can help to build positive neural pathways and help our child to successfully move through each stage. For example, we can support our child's development through stage 3 (preschool age) by giving plenty of opportunities for our child to explore their world within our safe limits, use their initiative, make mistakes without shame, and experience success. Stage 4 (school age) is when we want to help them to develop their strengths and find areas in which they can shine as they naturally compare themselves to others and come to make sense of their place in the world.

So, keep your child's stage of emotional development in mind as they learn to navigate the world around them.

They will get through this, and so will you.

5 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page