CHF 1500 Human Development PrevNext
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Autonomy vs Shame & Doubt

Psychosocial Stage - Developmental task for Toddlerhood Age

As the child matures and develops skills and behaviors of independence, the caring adult needs to encourage and foster such behavior. This independence is expressed in the form of physical ability (doing by oneself), such as feeding, holding, carrying, pushing, manipulating objects and other physical behaviors. It is also expressed in the form of social independence as the child tries to manupulate the relationships in his life. Language is also used to express the child's developing sense of power and control and independence. The use of the common word "NO!" is often one of the first words the child begins to utter.

The wise adult will recognize this bold statement of "NO!" for what it is... an indicator that the child is developing a sense of "Autonomy". It is not an indicator of antisocial rebellious personality. This is simply a test of power and control. The wise adult will recognize this and foster a healthy sense of Autonomy. So... cellabrate it, encourage it, foster it... don't get impatient and punish it.

How do you foster Autonomy? ............. be an "Authoritative" parent.

Let the child win from time to time.
Set reasonable limits the child and you can live with.
Follow though with those limits (reasonable limits have reasonable consequences).
Be consistent and supportive. Don't be "wishy-washy", you are the adult.
Continue to be loving and caring, build on the Trust you established in infancy.
Enjoy your child, have fun together. If you are frustrated, he will probably be also.
Remember, punishment will jeapardize the Trust relationship.
Focus on the positive, recognize achievements, let small insignificant matters pass.

If you are successful... the virtue of "Will Power" will begin to emerge.

At this point you will want to learn a little about being an "Authoritative" parent.

The controlling adult ("Authoritarian" adult) will often resent the child's expressions of control and power and will respond with punishment or statements of disgust and reproof. Often we can hear these adults say things like, "Don't you talk to me like that young man. Don't you dare say "NO" to me... Shame on you for being that way." If the child consistently hears this type of communication, he is at risk for developing the polarity of Shame and Doubt. If this happens, he is also at risk for healthy future development.


Also See the text on this psychosocial stage,