The Importance of Early Childhood Experience:.
An In-Depth Look at the Theories of Freud and Erikson.
The assumption that early childhood experience is important in terms of later development is reflected in the ideas of Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson. Freud and Erikson both believe that stable personality patterns begin in childhood and that early childhood experiences play an important role in terms of a child's personality development (Western, 1998). The ideas of both theorists are based in psychoanalytic theory and each of their frameworks has similarities as well as differences in terms of explaining the importance of early childhood experience. .
Freud and Erikson's frameworks are similar in that they both explain a child's healthy later development in terms of a number of stages that a child must successfully complete in their early years. The frameworks are also similar because their stages parallel one another. Erikson's stages correspond with Freud's stages and each of Erikson's stages begin and end at the same time as Freud's. Freud's first stage ranges from birth to a year old, as does Erikson's first stage (Berk, 2000). Freud's second stage ranges from a year to three years old (Berk, 2000). The same is true of Erikson's second stage (Berk, 2000). Freud's third stage ranges from three to six years old, and the same is true of Erikson's third stage (Berk, 2000). Freud and Erikson's fourth stages both range from six to eleven years old and their fifth stages both involve adolescence (Berk, 2000). However, as Freud's stages end at adolescence, Erikson's extend into old age (Berk, 2000). Erikson's framework is quite similar to Freud's framework because it is based upon Freudian ideas. However, it is different because it is an expansion of Freud's ideas (Erikson, 1968). .
Freud and Erikson differ in their assumptions about the types of stages a child must complete and, although they each agree that early childhood experiences are important for a healthy developmental outcome, they disagree with the types of experiences that constitute as important.