Summary Chart*Introduction to Stages*Biography*Critiques& Controversies*References & OtherLinks

Erik Erikson's 8 Stages of PsychosocialDevelopment

Stage 2: Muscular-Anal

Age:Toddler period -- 1 to 2 years

Conflict: Autonomy vs. Doubt

Important Event: Toilet Training


According to Erikson, self control and self confidence begin to develop atthis stage. Children can do more on their own. Toilet training is the mostimportant event at this stage. They also begin to feed and dress themselves.This is how the toddler strives for autonomy. It is essential for parents not tobe overprotective at this stage. A parent's level of protectiveness willinfluence the child's ability to achieve autonomy. If a parent is notreinforcing, the child will feel shameful and will learn to doubt his or herabilities. "Erikson believes that children who experience too much doubt atthis stage will lack confidence in their powers later in life"(Woolfolk, 1987).

Elements for a positive outcome:

The child must take more responsibility for his or her own feeding,toileting, and dressing. Parents must be reassuring yet avoid overprotection.

Elements for a negative outcome:

If parents do not maintain a reassuring, confident attitude and do notreinforce the child's efforts to master basic motor and cognitive skills,children may begin to feel shame; they may learn to doubt their abilities tomanage the world on their own terms. Children who experience too much doubt atthis stage will lack confidence in their own powers throughout life.


In this stage children begin to assume important responsibilities forself-care like feeding, toileting, and dressing.

Erikson's Stage 3Summary Chart
Introduction to StagesErikson home page