Theorist Perspective

According to Erikson’s theory, the industry versus inferiority stage happens at the age of between 7 and 13 years. During this time, social interaction and school play a vital role in a child’s life. As the children join the school and establish new friendships with age mates, their social world expands significantly. At this stage, children recognize their abilities and accomplishments and hence develop a sense of pride. A child’s interaction is centered mainly on family members and caregivers but after they join school the realm of their social influence increases dramatically with classmates and friends playing a major role. It is during these interactions that children may realize that they are better or less capable than their peers which lead to feelings of confidence and inadequacy respectively.

School work is essential in building confidence and competency. Actual skill and performance are evaluated once the school begins and children become more capable of performing increasingly complex tasks. Those children who are commended and encouraged by teachers and parents believe in their abilities and develop a feeling of competence whereas those who receive little or no encouragement end up doubting their abilities hence they perform poorly. Children who may have a hard time developing a sense of competence may end up with feelings of inferiority while those that get support from parents and teachers end up developing a sense of industry (Munley, 2015).

Developmental Influences

Environmental Influence

Naturally, children growing up in households with a low socioeconomic status develop slower and their outcomes are less favorable than other infants do. The children are prone to malnutrition and poor housing. Their parents may try to make the two ends meet by working multiple jobs which translates to a less time spent with the children. Basically, parents who spend less time with their children are less likely to engage, talk and read with their infants. Often, a child’s cognitive development is affected by factors associated with poverty. As the theory argues, positive environmental influence will make a child develop a sense of pride and secondly, develop a sense of competence (Walker & Kaufman, 2016).


A child learns by imitating and observing others. Children not only learn habits but also language by observing people who are around them. When a society provides the children with health facilities, recreational facilities, good schools, an encouraging and a supportive atmosphere then they are likely to have a remarkable cognitive capacity. Hence our theory may apply in two ways, first society plays a chief role in the development of cognition of a child, secondly, unproductive societal interactions may lead to feelings of failure and inferiority due to lack of attention and praise (Tulviste, 2014).

Familial Influence

A family is a crucial factor in the development of an infant as it provides the child’s hereditary traits. The family also provides the most vital attachments as well as stimulation and the care important for a child’s development and growth. Adequate stimulation happens when children interact with adults in the family environment (Bandura, 2016). Children are also able to develop their perception, control and guide their behaviors through the proximal processes that serve as basic mechanisms of this interaction. Research reveals that mothers who stimulate their babies through a variety of perceptive experiences with symbols, objects, and people have largely contributed to their infant’s cognitive development. In addition, the family acts as a mediator between the social community and the children which promotes socialization that also helps in cognitive development. Basically, the Industry vs Inferiority theory applies in two ways; children can either be exposed to risks or get protection in the family development. Unstable family relationships and ties impair the children’s ability for social skills, memory, language, and problem-solving (Munley, 2015).

Cultural Influence

The Culture in which children grows up has a significant influence on everything from parenting styles and developmental milestones to the kinds of challenges one Is more likely to encounter. Some biological milestones such as puberty are general and similar in all cultures but social indicators such as the age at which a child may start going to school can vary greatly in different cultures. Parenting styles differ in various cultures. The theory may apply in two ways in this influence: First, some styles may be authoritative involving a parent giving reasonable demands, dictating limits, showing affection and love and considering a child’s point of view. This method is likely to produce a child with excellent social skills and high self-esteem. Secondly, other parents may be very unavailable in parenting hence children might grow up with feelings of inadequacy (Munley, 2015).

How Erik Erikson Theory Applies to Cognitive Development

According to Erikson, the industry vs Inferiority stage largely determines infants’ self-esteem based on their view on their ability to do productive labor. An elementary child usually starts desiring to undertake some complex tasks with time and lose interest in make-believe games. The need to learn more valuable skills in a society starts rising and they start developing their sense of industry through activities such as making some things on their own, doing sums, writing and reading. The peer groups start becoming sensitive to a child’s life since they spend more time together at school or at home (Walker & Kaufman, 2016). As children networks widen so do relationships in neighborhood and school become essential and tutors start to be an important figure in their lives as they teach them very critical skills.

It is here that children start learning about their special abilities and talents and the importance of the division of labor and as a result, start developing responsibility and moral commitment. The children start getting aware that they can accomplish this or that task and hence develop competency. The need to gain approval by validating their competences increases and whenever they successfully complete a task, they feel proud especially when others appreciate the effort. It is dangerous when a child compares himself with other peers and realizes that his capabilities are no at par, the situation becomes worse when the parents, teachers, and friends hurt his feelings by negative reactions and this makes a child develop a sense of inadequacy (Munley, 2015).

When parents, teachers, friends and other key people in a child’s life support and encourage him, a child feels confident and industrious. On the other hand, a child may doubt his skills and feel inferior when he is controlled, ignored and discouraged. The most important thing is balancing modesty and competence because in some cases failure can also have a positive influence in an infant’s growth. The main and the secondary virtue learned by children at this stage is ‘competence’ and ‘method’ respectively. Competence is displayed by applying processes and skills productively, making things and creating results and having the sense of capability. A child with the two virtues is able to seek and respond to challenges productively. However, too much confidence may lead to obsession as a person overworks himself or when failure is experienced too often a child develop ‘’inertia’’ marked by purposelessness and laziness (Bandura, 2016).

Analysis: Solutions for the prevention of negative influences

  • Show the children appropriate behaviors by the way you act.

In most cases, children learn by example and the attitudes, values, and behaviors of parents or other close family members have an effective influence on children. Those children who attended a rough school, or lives in a violent neighborhood or is faced by negative peer pressure may find strength from values of pride, honesty, and pride in their family. Encourage the children to settle an argument with calm words but not a fight. Ensure that you teach them the dangers of being violent and praise them whenever they constructively solve a problem without violence (Tulviste, 2014).

  • Supervise the Children.

Children are unlikely to receive the guidance they need without supervision. Make sure that you are aware of where the children are at all times and the people they are with. Ask a trusted person to watch over them when you are unable to watch them. Enroll your children to local community programs so that they can get along with being supervised. It is helpful to monitor how they are getting along with others by accompanying your children to supervised play activities such as organized recreation or sports (Bandura, 2016).

  • Show attention and consistent love.

All children need a loving, strong relationship with all adults especially the parents so as to feel secure and safe and most importantly develop a sense of trust. Consistent love discourages the problems of delinquency and behavioral problems. Parents may take local parenting classes so that they can learn positive ways of handling the challenges of raising children (Munley, 2015).




Bandura, A. (2016). Perceived self-efficacy in cognitive development and functioning. Educational Psychologist28(2), 117-148.

Benjamin, E. H. (2014). Identity and the life cycle. WW Norton & Company. 4(2), 351-355 (Benjamin, 2014)

Munley, P. H. (2015). Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development and vocational behavior. Journal of Counseling Psychology22(4), 314.

Tulviste, P. (2014). Apprenticeship in thinking: Cognitive development in social context. Science249(4969), 684-686.

Walker, H. M., and Kaufman, M. J. (2016). Integrated approaches to preventing antisocial behavior patterns among school-age children and youth. Journal of emotional and behavioral disorders4(4), 194-209.

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