In the next stage Erikson discusses the age between 4 to 6 years. In this stage the child is faced with the crisis of initiative vs. guilt. In this stage the child is becoming more courageous; they are beginning to face the complexities of planning and developing a sense of judgment. The children in this stage are starting to take more risks such as crossing the road alone. The child is starting to set goals for him or herself. If the child is unable to reach these goals then the child becomes frustrated and then they begin to show aggressive behaviors such as hitting and throwing objects.
When a child takes initiative to try new things and to venture out it is important that caregivers encourage the behavior within safe boundaries. If the child is discouraged from taking initiative then they will begin to feel guilty over their needs and desires.
The main question for this stage is, “Am I good or am I bad?” This is what the child is looking at as the venture out of their comfort zones. The parent/caregiver is then reinforcing one side of the question by how they respond to the child. It is important to support the children in a caring and loving way allowing them to make their own mistakes and also helping them set appropriate boundaries.
This is an interesting stage in that it starts to reinforce some negative aggressive behaviors. It is a time in which a child can reinforce the feelings of shame that will stick with them throughout their lives. It is also the time in which a leader can be born. Thinking of the heroes/heroines in our novels we should be able to identify where a caregiver of some sort helped them through a tough time, early on in their life. This is a time in which our heroes/heroines should have developed some good feelings about being a good person and seeing that taking initiative is a good thing. In my book the hero remembers his mother and father and how they were as people and how they treated him at an early age. Even though he begins to doubt himself he remembers this and it helps him through tough times in the story.
What are some events that keep your heroes/heroines going? Was it experiences as children? Or was it later on in life?