The developmental tasks of six life stages, as indicated
by Erikson (1950), Havighurst (1952), Kagon and Moss
(1962), and Witmer and Kotinsky (1952) are described
Personality Development and Adjustment:
Developmental Task of Different Life Stages
Infancy and Early Childhood Learning to walk and
talk. Learning to take (0-6 years) solid food and to
control the elimination of body wastes. Achieving
physiological stability. Developing a sense of trust in
oneself and in others. Learning to relate oneself
emotionally to parents, siblings, and other people.
Forming an identification with one’s own sex.
Developing simple concepts of social and physical
reality. Mastering simple safety rules. Learning to
distinguish right from wrong and to respect rules and
Middle Childhood (6-12 years) Gaining wider
knowledge and understanding of the physical and
social world. Building wholesome attitudes toward
oneself. Learning an appropriate masculine or feminine
social role. Developing conscience, morality, and a
scale of values. Learning to read, write, and calculate,
and learning other fundamental intellectual skills.
Learning physical skills. Developing attitudes toward
social groups and other institutions. Learning to win
and maintain a place among one’s age-mates. Learning
to give and take and to share responsibility. Achieving
increasing personal independence.
Adolescence (12-18 years) Developing self-confidence
and a clear sense of identity. Accepting one’s physique
and adjusting to body changes. Achieving a masculine
or feminine social role. Developing new and mature
relations with age-mates. Achieving emotional
independence from parents and other adults.
Developing concern beyond oneself; achieving maturevalues, and social responsibility. Selecting and preparing for an occupation.
Preparing for marriage
and family life. Learning to make choices and taking
responsibility. Building a conscious value system in
harmony with an adequate world picture.
Early adulthood (18-35 years)Completing formal
education. Getting started in an occupation. Selecting
and learning to live with a mate. Starting a family
and providing for the material and psychological need
of one’s children. Finding a congenial social group.
Taking on civic responsibility. Developing a satisfying
philosophy of life.
Middle Age (35-60 years) Accepting greater civic
and social responsibility. Achieving personal growth
with one’s mate and relating to one’s mate as a
person. Establishing a standard of living and developing
adequate financial security for remaining years.
Developing adult leisure-time activities and extending
interests. Helping teen-age children become
responsible and happy adults. Adjusting to aging
parents. Accepting and adjusting to the physiological
changes of middle age.
Later Life Adjusting to decreasing physical strength.
Adjusting to retirement and reduced income, and
establishing satisfactory living arrangements. Adjusting
to the death of spouse or friends. Meeting social and
civic obligations within one’s ability. Establishing
affiliation with one’s own age group. Maintaining active
interests and concern beyond oneself.
Task common to all Periods Developing and using
one’s physical, social, and emotional competencies.
Accepting oneself and developing basic self-confidence.
Accepting reality and building valid attitudes and
values. Participating creatively and responsibly in
family and other groups. Building rich linkages with
The most important pathways towards maturity are:
1) Dependence to Self-Direction: One of the pathways
towards maturity is from dependency of fetus,
infant and child to the independence of adulthood.
Growth toward independence and self
direction is the development of an integrated frame
of reference of adult responsibilities.
2) Pleasure to Reality: Freud indicated that the
pleasure principle is fundamental in governing
early behaviour. This thought was subordinated to
the reality principle, the realization that we must
learn to perceive and face reality if we are to
meet our needs.
3) Ignorance to Knowledge: The human baby is born
in a stage of total ignorance and soon starts
acquiring information about herself and the
surroundings. In due course of time, this
information is organized into coherent pattern
assumptions concerning reality, value and
possibility, which provides him with a stable frame
of reference for guiding her behaviour.
4) Incompetence to Competence: The entire period
from infancy through adolescence is directed
toward the mastery of intellectual, emotional,
social and other competencies essential for
5) Diffuse Sexuality to Heterosexuality: The sexual
development is an important development in a
person’s growth towards maturity. At an early
age, diffuse and generalized expressions of
sexuality are found. During later childhood
interests and emotional feelings are directed
towards other members of the same sex. With the
advent of puberty, heterosexual differentiation
progresses rapidly. However, maturity in sexual
behaviour involves more than directing one’s
desires towards a member of the opposite sex.
6) Amoral to Moral: The newborn baby has no
concept of good or bad; right or wrong; gradually
she learns a pattern of value assumptions which
operate as inner guides or control behaviour, we
refer to as her conscience or super ego.
7) Self-centered to Other Centered: One of the most
important pathways to maturity involves
individual’s gradual transition from exclusive
preoccupation with himself and his needs to an
understanding and acceptance of social
responsibilities and an involvement in the human
enterprise. This includes the ability to give love
in one’s family setting and to be concerned about
and contribute to the welfare of one’s group and
of society in general.
Variation in Development
All human beings go through the same stages of
growth but we observe variations in the traits that
they develop. The term trait is used to refer to any
distinguishable and relatively enduring characteristic
of the individual. The variation in the traits may be
illustrated as most people fall in the intermediate or
average range of intelligence, while a few at one
extreme are geniuses and a few at the other extreme
are mentally retarded.
However, variation may occur from one individual to
another in (a) the nature of a given physical trait,
such as blood type and skin color, (b) the differentiation
or extent to which a given trait is developed, (c) the integration
of traits or harmony among them, and (d)
the over all pattern of traits, which we call personality.
Variation within a definite range is considered normal;
it is abnormal only when it becomes extreme enough
to impair one’s adaptive capacities seriously.
A number of factors are significant which affect a
particular trait. The traits play a very important role
in the development of an individual, if his position is
very much above or below the average. The significance
of a given trait depends on the pattern of all the