Erikson's 4th Stage of Development: Industry Versus Inferiority: Elementary School Years
by Cynthia M. Braden, LMFT
At no other time is the child more enthusiastic about learning than at the end of early childhood's period of expansive imagination. The danger in the elementary school years is the development of a sense of inferiority, of feeling incompetent and unproductive.
John W. Santrock
We want the elementary school child to develop a sense of enjoying productivity and competency. We want them to feel smart and capable - that they know something and can do something (maybe even better than adults) - and get recognized for that.
Wow! Now I feel smart and capable and I am intrinsically motivated to do even better!
We also want school age children to learn to help others. We want the child to become intrinsically motivated not only to gain expertise in particular areas (Industry), but maybe more importantly to learn to receive the personal reward and maturity gained by a reasonable amount of self-sacrifice and service to others. Otherwise parents may have a bratty and entitled young person on their hands.
The child is able to help others by contributing information and knowledge gained from his
Industry, The child is able to understand that parents and teachers are also vulnerable and may benefit from assistance that the child is uniquely able to provide. This of course makes the child feel industrious, comptent and needed which creates the postive feedback loop we are hoping to foster in the mastery of these developmental tasks.
We should praise, but not overly so that it seems too easy or fake, and provide children of the millenium with a milieu in which to learn balance, responsibility and empathy so they are prepared to deal with the tumult of adolescence that is looming.
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