20 Famous Erik Erikson Quotes On Child Development

Various psychologists have provided numerous theories and quotes on child development, and one of the visionaries was Erik Erikson.

Erik Erikson was a renowned psychologist and developmental theorist who is widely recognized for his theory of psychosocial development. Erikson’s theory of child development has a significant impact on the field of psychology and education, providing a framework for understanding the complex interactions between individuals and their environment throughout their lifespan. His ideas continue to be widely studied and applied in a variety of settings.

In this post, we will explore some of Erikson’s most insightful quotes on child development and learn about his contribution to the field.

Erik Erikson saying on child development

1. You see a child play, and it is so close to seeing an artist paint, for in play, a child says things without uttering a word. You can see how he solves his problems. You can also see what’s wrong. Young children, especially, have enormous creativity, and whatever’s in them rises to the surface in free play.

2. “The most important period of life is not the age of university studies, but the first one, the period from birth to the age of six.

3. “The adolescent must ply the deep and difficult waters of personal identity, where what is found is the discovery of one’s own individuality.”

4. “Children are not simply born but made by their parents’ child-rearing practices.”

5. “Healthy children will not fear life if their elders have enough integrity not to fear death.

6. “The choices form the identity that individuals (children) make in the process of living their lives.”

7. “Young adulthood can be a time of ferment and struggle, a time of reassessment and redirection.”

8. “The eighth stage of man’s development is one in which the individual must learn to deal with the stresses and demands of life without relying on the support of others.”

9. “Identity is not something you are born with, but rather something you achieve through the course of your life.”

10. “The lack of trust can have a profound effect on a person’s development and can lead to feelings of insecurity and loneliness.”

11. “An infant of two or three months will smile at even half a painted dummy face if that half of the face is fully represented and has at least two clearly defined points or circles for eyes; more the infant does not need, but he will not smile for less. The infant’s instinctive smile seems to have exactly that purpose which is its crowning effect, namely, that the adult feels recognised and, in return, expresses recognition in the form of loving and providing.”

12. “There is in every child at every stage a new miracle of vigorous unfolding.”

13. “The central psychosocial task in this stage( identity vs role confusion) is to find one’s own identity (age of 12-19).”

14. “Each successive stage builds upon the successful completion of earlier stages.”

15. “The basic challenge of trust versus mistrust is one of hope versus fear.”

16. “Every time a child says, ‘I don’t believe in fairies’, there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead.”

17. “Initiative versus guilt is the third stage of Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, occurring between the ages of 3 and 5 years. It is during this stage that children develop a sense of purpose and learn to take initiative. If encouraged and supported, this initiative can lead to a sense of competence and industry.”

18. “The future of a child is always the work of two: the parents and the teacher.”

19. “Childhood is the longest period of human life that is completely dependent on others.”

20. “It is not the father or the mother, but the parental image that is the decisive factor for the child’s healthy emotional growth.”

Some insightful contributions of Erik Erikson’s  in child development

Here will explore some of the most insightful contributions of Erikson’s work to the field of child development, and how they continue to inform our understanding of human development today.

  • Erik Erikson’s 8-stage theory of human psychosocial development: Erikson proposed that an individual’s development is influenced by the resolution of psychosocial crisis at each stage of life. These stages occur in a predictable order and build upon each other.
  • Stages: The 8 stages of Erikson’s theory are Trust vs Mistrust, Autonomy vs Shame & Doubt, Initiative vs Guilt, Industry vs Inferiority, Identity vs Role Confusion, Intimacy vs Isolation, Generativity vs Stagnation, and Integrity vs Despair. Each stage focuses on a different aspect of human development, such as the development of self-esteem, the formation of relationships, and the achievement of a sense of purpose in life.
  • Unique psychosocial crisis: Erikson believed that each stage has a unique challenge that individuals must resolve in order to progress to the next stage. The resolution of this challenge leads to healthy development.
  • Role of cultural and historical context: Erikson believed that cultural and historical context play a crucial role in shaping an individual’s development. He argued that the challenges and opportunities that individuals face are shaped by their social, cultural, and historical context.
  • Impact of childhood experiences: Erikson emphasized the importance of childhood experiences in shaping adult personality and relationships. He believed that experiences during childhood have a profound impact on an individual’s future development.
  • Relationship with significant others: Erikson considered the relationship between an individual and their significant others (such as parents) to be crucial for their development. He believed that this relationship shapes an individual’s sense of self and their ability to form healthy relationships later in life.


Contributions from psychologists like Jean Piaget and Erik Erikson to the field of child development continue to shape and influence our understanding of the complexities of human growth and development. His insights into the crucial role of psychological and social factors in shaping our lives have helped to shed light on the journey of growth and self-discovery that begins in childhood and extends into adulthood. Whether you are a psychologist, educator, parent, or simply someone looking to understand the human experience better, Erikson’s quotes on child development are sure to inspire and inform.

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