Free Custom «Comparison and Contrast of Child Development Theories by Piaget and Erik Erickson» Essay Sample

Free Custom «Comparison and Contrast of Child Development Theories by Piaget and Erik Erickson» Essay Sample

Development psychology is concerned with understanding psychological variations that take place in individuals from childhood to adulthood. The study of changes reuires a scientific approach. Psychological theorists have made a significant contribution to the field of psychology. Notable individuals are those whose work has advanced the understanding of child psychology. They include Erik Erickson and Jean Piaget. The paper focuses on the theories by Erickson and Piaget by comparing and contrasting the two.


Piaget and Erickson both looked at issues of psychological development by examining its phases. In a similar fashion, the two theories postulate that there exist various challenges as a child develops. They agree that the next stage in the development process is dependent on the previous one in a way that a failure in the preceding phase causes problems in the succeeding stage.

Both theories contend that the development of an individual occurs across the entire period of growth from childhood to being an adult. In this manner, the surroundings in which the child grows influences him or her through the process of education and learning (Slee, 2014). Therefore, an individual is influenced by cognition and society and becomes successful. The two theorists developed ideas, the amalgamation of which gives teachers of children knowledge on how to handle different situations through the study of child psychology.


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The psychoanalytic school of thought explains motivation according to Erickson’s theory consistent with Freud’s ideas. His theory holds that the environment plays a significant part in the determination of individual’s personality. He believes that children use symbols to represent ideas, such as places, objects and people, and that every stage is characterized by challenges. In contrast, Piaget’s final stage of development continues at advanced ages (Smart, 2012). He emphasised cognitive progression and postulated that it was a result of mental processes (Smart, 2012). His studies include a series of questions and the theory that explains how children create thoughts. On the other hand, Erickson focused on the development of personality. In his studies, he utilised clinical processes, observations and questions to arrive at conclusions.

Piaget and Erickson also differed in their opinion of stages. The former believed that a child may fail to pass all steps outlined in the theory, but the development of a child to the advanced age is determined by experience. However, Erickson claimed that child’s involvement in all phases is critical in the process of development (Rathus, 2013).

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Discribing the last years of the teenage period, Piaget and Erickson held different views as far as adolescence was concerned. According to the former, adolescents have rational judgments and are sensible persons. However, Erickson believed that at that age of development, a person concentrates on acquiring decision-making freedom, associations and tends to discover oneself more. Erickson postulated that individuals’ egos vary changing their personality. On the other hand, Piaget’s theory disregards the issue of ego, but remains focused on variations in the development stages. His theory is underpinned by the assumption of the ability and intellect of a child as improvement elements. Erickson’s theory is founded on the influence of the societal setting.

Erickson’s theory gives eight stages of development, and the environment plays a critical role in the process. The child goes through different crises at each phase, and they occur throughout the lifespan of an individual. The success of going through crises is dependent on the manner in which the issue is handled. However, Piaget only focused on the early ages below twelve years and concentrated on the respective processes (Rathus, 2013). According to Erickson, the first stage stops when the child is one-year-old, while Piaget believed it ends in the second year of growth.

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Piaget and Erik made a significant contribution to the understanding of child psychology, which became helpful to children educators. Their theories have differences and similarities, but most importantly, they both outlined development phases that shaped the view on children’s development process.

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