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Erik Erikson's 8 Stages of PsychosocialDevelopment

Stage 3: Locomotor

Age: Early Childhood -- 2 to 6 years

Conflict: Initiative vs. Guilt

Important Event: Independence


The most important event at this stage is independence. The child continuesto be assertive and to take the initiative. Playing and hero worshipping are animportant form of initiative for children. Children in this stage are eager forresponsibility. It is essential for adults to confirm that the child'sinitiative is accepted no matter how small it may be. If the child is not givena chance to be responsible and do things on their own, a sense of guilt maydevelop. The child will come to believe that what they want to do is alwayswrong.

Elements for a positive outcome:

In order for a positive outcome in this stage, the child must learn toaccept without guilt, that there are certain things not allowed. Children mustbe guilt free when using imagination. They must be reassured that it is okay toplay certain adult roles.

Elements for a negative outcome:

If children are not allowed to do things on their own, a sense of guilt maydevelop and they may come to believe that what they want to do is always wrong.


A four year old passing tools to a parent who is fixing a bicycle. Childrenat this stage will worship heroes. Pretend games are also common.

Erikson's Stage 4Summary Chart
Introduction to StagesErikson home page