A healthy person undergoes eight stages of social development right from infancy to late adulthood consistent with the doctrines of Erikson. The stages are unique in their own as exemplified by the new challenges and obstacles that a person has overcome in order to progress to the next stage. The stages are interdependent since the completion of one stage ushers in the initiation of the next point in the hierarchy of human social development. Failure to complete a particular stage will lead to more struggles for a person during the later periods of life. The first stage in the social development of a person is the trust versus mistrust phase. This stage is experiences during the infancy of a child and extends throughout the first year. This stage is characterized by the innocence of a child who is vulnerable to the pressures of the surrounding environment. If the parents are sensitive and responsive towards the needs and wants of a child, an infant develops a basic trust making it easier for the child to trust people during the later stages of life (Rod Plotnik, 2013). On the contrary, if the parents are negligent, the child tends to perceive the world to be uncaring. They learn to become mistrustful which will have a negative impact on the wellbeing of a child.
Secondly, the autonomy versus shame and doubt period follows the first stage. It begins at the age of one year and ends at the age of thre years. The second stages comprises of the conflicting interests between the wishes of a child to do as he or she pleases the wishes of the parents.
The third stage is the initiative versus guilt stage that occurs at the early childhood stage and between three till five years. During this stage, the child is faced with the dilemma of taking responsibilities and being initiative. After a child has adopted all the requirements of the third stage, the fourth stage, which is referred to as the industry versus the inferiority phase, is initiated. It takes place between the middle childhood stage and late childhood period i.e. between the age of five years and twelve years. A child engages in playful activities during this stage of development. They often participate in school activities geared towards developing the virtue of industry. However, if a child finds it difficult completing simple tasks, a feeling of inferiority complex takes precedence (Rathus, 2011).
The identity versus role confusion period is the fifth stage. It occurs during the adolescence phase of a person. It is characterized by the challenge of leaving behind the carefree attitude of infants and adopting a purposeful and responsible behavior of adults. The inability to complete this stage successfully results in the development of experiences of role confusion in the later stages of life of a person’s development. The compleetion of the fifth period ushers in the sixth stage referred to as the love and intimacy versus isolation stage. It is experienced between the age of twenty years and thirty-four years. This stage is important because it allows people to fall in love and to feel loved in return. Failure to complete this stage leads to developing feeling of isolation and social withdrawal (Rathus, 2006).
The seventh stage in the social development order is called the generativity versus stagnation period. It is the longest phase in a person’s life and it takes place between the age of thirty-five years and sixty-five years. During this stage, people usually work and contribute to the improvement and prosperity of the society. Lastly, the integrity versus the despair stage completes the cycle of social development of a person. People tend to look back at life’s experiences and their accomplishments. If they were productive, a sense of integrity is developed, and a sense of despair if they never accomplished their missions in life (Rathus, 2010).
Social development plays a crucial role during the education and teaching process. It helps teachers and learners to have a deeper understanding of the various needs of a person during a particular stage in life. Consequently, it eases the teaching process through sensitive and responsible provision of the needs and requirements of a person (Greene, 2011).