Application of Theories and Concepts of Human Development in a Personal

Applicationof Theories and Concepts of Human Development in a Personal Life


Thispaper addressed the application of theories of human development in apersonal life, starting from infancy to older adulthood. Erikson’s8 stages of development helped in the division of life into variousstages of development for ease of analysis. These stages includetrust versus mistrust, autonomy versus doubt and shame, initiativeversus guilt, industry versus inferiority, identity versus roleconfusion, intimacy versus isolation, generativity versus stagnation,and integrity versus despair. Successful development in all stagesincreases the probability of an effective development in subsequentstages of development. Spiritual development was mainly attainedduring childhood and adolescence following my introduction to churchby parents. Spiritual development in the two stages of developmenthelped me in addressing the large number of developmental challengesassociated with adolescence. The three lifestyle behaviors that Iwill have to address in the last stage of development includephysical exercise, nutrition, and substance abuse.

Keywords: Developmental stages, theories of development, Erikson8-stages of development.

Applicationof Theories and Concepts of Human Development in a Personal Life

Humangrowth and development is a lifelong process that involves physical,cognitive, emotional, and behavior growth and change. These changesoccur at different rates and in different stages of life startingfrom babyhood to childhood, childhood to adolescence, and then toadulthood. During the process of growth and development peopleacquire different values and attitudes that determine theirrelationships, choices, and understanding of various aspects of lifeboth at the current and subsequent developmental stage. This impliesthat there is a set of principles and characteristics that makespatterns of human development universal in spite of individualdifferences in personalities, timing of milestones of development,and activity levels (Ruffin, 2014). In this paper I will relatedifferent theories and concepts of human development to my personallife and events that have occurred during my growth and development.In addition, I will address the current lifestyle behaviors andpredict how they are likely to affect my aging process.

Growthand development at different stages of life

Thereare many theories of development that describe various stages ofhuman growth and development. In this paper I will use the Erickson’stheory of development to divide my developmental process into 8stages.

Infancy:Trust versus mistrust

Althoughdevelopment of infants mainly depends on their relationship withparents, life experiences, during pregnancy can influence themother-child interactions. Research shows that depression, anxiety,and stress during pregnancy are positively associated with negativeoutcomes for both the infant and the mother after delivery (Dunkel.2012). Some of the adverse effects of negative life experiencesinclude fetal neurodevelopment and low birth weight newborn. Theabsence of these adverse experiences creates a platform for healthycognitive, emotional, and behavioral development of the newborn. Inmy case, my mother received a lot of moral and spiritual support frommy dad, friends, and church members, which kept her esteem highduring pregnancy. This enhanced her ability to pass on this love tome during my infancy, which allowed me to develop trust in my parentsand other people. I attribute the high sense of worthiness andconfidence to explore my environment to the right footing that myparents gave me during infancy.

Toddler:Autonomy versus doubt and shame

Eriksoncalled the developmental stage between the age of 2 and 3 yearsautonomy versus shame. During this stage, children start takingcontrol over their own body while parents are expected to fosterpositive self-esteem, autonomy, and the sense of curiosity forchildren who are trying to venture into the environment (Sacco,2013). My parents, who were aware of their role in my development,allowed me to play with objects and do whatever I wished to do, butkept a close watch over me to prevent me from doing anything thatwould harm me. Apart from informing me on the importance of theformal school, my parents introduced me to Sunday school at a tenderage with the objective of enhancing my spiritual growth. Theimportance of spiritual development is to invite the key reflectionson metaphysical and transcendental on values arising frompropositions about human existence and character as well as religioussymbols and characters (Roehlkepartain, Ebstyne &amp Wagener, 2005).The spiritual knowledge I attained during childhood allowed me to beassertive in determining what was right or wrong for me to do.

Thepreschool age: Initiative versus guilt

Thisdevelopmental stage begins from the age of 3 years and ends at 6years of age. During this stage, the imagination serves as the keymover and facilitates the development of the sense of purpose whenthe children manage to envision things and pursue them (Ramkumar,2012). My parents partly fostered my ability to develop theinitiative. This is because, on one hand, they allowed me to choosethe kind of games I wanted to play, but on the other hand, theydenied me an opportunity to participate in real-life activities, suchas serving food and other real-life chores. They focused more on myacademic performance and spiritual development. However, the partialdevelopment of the initiative was not significant to an extent ofleading me into developing the sense of guilt.

Elementaryschool age: Industry versus inferiority

Thisdevelopmental stage starts from age 6 to 12 years and it ischaracterized by the child’s attempt to gain competence indifferent activities (Ramkumar, 2012). This is a crucial stagebecause children experience cognitive development in a process knownas the concrete operation in Piagent’s stages of development.According to Ojose (2008) children start considering more than onedimension simultaneously instead of considering them successfully.This implies that children can now address issues affecting allspheres of life, including academics, health, and spirituality. Atthe start of the elementary, my teachers subjected me to the risk ofdeveloping inferiority, but the support I received from my parentskept me going. For example, the tendency of my mathematics teachersto excuse my failure with the lack of accuracy and skills, which wasa counterproductive approach, could have fostered a belief that I wasincapable. My parents, on the other hand, encouraged me to build awork ethic that allowed me to demonstrate the proof of learninginstead of a mere engagement in academic works. This enabled me tocounter the negative remarks from my teachers by enhancing myorganizational skills that increased my capacity to balance betweenacademic and extracurricular activities.

Adolescence:Identity versus role confusion

Thisstage starts at the age of 12 years and ends at the age of about 19years of age (Ramkumar, 2012). The stage is characterized by anongoing struggle to gain independence, become more responsible, andmature. Similar to other people, adolescent stage was my time todetermine what I wanted to become in future. I faced seriousconfusion and internal struggles trying to identify myself withvarious professions based on different likes and dislikes. Forexample, at one moment I would feel attracted to the teachingprofession while in another moment I could feel fascinated byguidance and counseling. Although I felt attracted to reggae musicand reggae musicians (such as Bob Marley), I had to fight internalbattles to avoid emulating their lifestyle. Having been brought in aChristian family, my parents and the society expected me toindividualize the Christian way of life without rebellion, which Imanaged though with some difficulties.

Youngadulthood: Intimacy versus isolation

Thisdevelopmental stage starts at the age of 20 to 40 years and it ischaracterized by struggles to establish close relationships andenhance the capacity to acquire an intimate love (Gorrindo, Fishel &ampBeresin, 2012). Young adults who experienced a positive developmentin all the previous stages have a high probability of establishinghealthy relationships, keep commitments, and interact openly withother people. In my case, the secure attachment and love that Ireceived from my parents and relatives enabled to trust other peopleand interact with them freely, but in rational ways. However, I facedsome challenge in establishing close relationships with men. Iattribute this to the religious teachings I received during mychildhood and adolescence, which nearly demonized sex beforemarriage. This is consistent with the findings reported by DuBois,Portillo, Rhodes, Silverton, Valentine (2011) indicating thatguidance and mentorship help youths overcome challenges associatedwith independence and establish intimate relationships. However, myfear of men resulted from a misconception that close relationshipbetween persons of the opposite sex must culminate in sex. I managedto overcome this fear by the age of 25 years with the help ofChristian teachings organized by the church specifically for theyouths. This helped me to establish a strong relationship with a man,which ended in marriage at the age of 27 years.

Inaddition, the young adulthood stage is characterized by anindividuals’ tendency to engage in productive work and achieve thegoals they have desired since childhood. On my part, I decided tojoin the army, not just as a way of earning a living, but in pursuitof one of the favorite careers since adolescence. This gave me anopportunity to exercise my abilities and learn from new challengesassociated with the responsibilities of taking care of the family,the nation, and myself. It opened my eyes and imparted me with theknowledge that I do not live just for myself, but also for others.

Middleadulthood: Generativity versus stagnation

Thisstage of development starts at the age of about 40 years and ends atthe age of 60 years (Gorrindo, Fishel &amp Beresin, 2012). Middleadulthood is characterized by tendency to seek for a sense ofcontributing to the world or the society through different means,such as family and community work. This means that the middleadulthood is a stage at which people start trying to become part ofthe bigger picture by giving back to their society. This is mainlyachieved by being more productive at work and increase individual’sengagement in community organizations and activities (McLeod, 2008).Although, I had an opportunity to enhance my productivity in the armyusing the skills and experienced I had accumulated for a period ofabout two decades, I felt more pressured to engage in community workand this resulted in my retirement in the army at the age of 48years. Currently, I serve as a Human Service / Children and Family asa County Supervisor. I have a feeling that I am on the right trackeven after retiring from the army because working with children havegiven me an opportunity to pursue one of my greatest desired ofhelping people and taking part in changing the dying world.Accomplishing these goals has helped me feel productive and part ofthe society.

Currentlifestyle behavior and their impact in my aging

Atmy current age of 54 years, I am feeling concerned about my agingprocess as I approach the last phase of human development known asEgo integrity versus despair. This stage starts at the age of 65years and it is characterized by serious contemplation of the pastaccomplishments (McLeod, 2008). I feeling that one have livedunsuccessful life can result in bad lifestyle behaviors that mayculminate in early death or long-term illness among older adults. Onmy part I am concerned about three lifestyle behaviors that mighthave a direct impact in my life. First, physical inactivity is one ofthe negative lifestyles that affect the majority of older adults andattracts my health-related challenges. According to Ojose (2008)physical inactivity subjects the older adults to the risk of coronaryheart diseases, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and mortalityamong other problems. I will avoid these problems by doing amoderate-intensity aerobic exercise for at least 150 minutes in aweek.

Secondly,a feeling that older adults have failed to accomplish their goals inlife can subject them to risk of abusing drugs. With about a decaderemaining before I get into the last phase of human development, I amplanning to increase my academic attainment and start up my ownbusiness, which will help me focus on marriage and family counseling.I although this will be an income generating project, it will help meaccomplish my goals in life, thus reducing the chances for regretsand the risk of abusing substances.

Lastly,nutrition is among the key aspects of lifestyle that determineswhether the older adults will age healthy and end up contractinglong-term illnesses. In my case, I plan to establish a relationshipwith a professional nutritionist who will be advising and checking onmy nutritional habits. This will help me avoid unhealthy eatingbehaviors and focus on a diet that will enhance my health and reducethe rate of cognitive impairment.


Differenttheorists (including Erikson and John Watson) have formulatedspecific theories that attempt to explain various growth anddevelopmental changes that occur in human life. These theories makeit possible to track, one’s developmental changes from infancy toolder adulthood. This has been confirmed in the present study byusing Erickson’s 8 stages of development and part of John Watson’stheory of development to analyze various developmental changes in mylife. Most importantly, the theories indicate the importance ofsecure attachment during infancy and childhood. This is because therelationship between infants or children and their caregiversdetermines their capacity to establish healthy relationships in otherstages of life. In addition, the developmental achievements at onestage of life determine one’s ability to approach life anddevelopmental challenges in subsequent phases of development.Moreover, it is possible to apply these theories to identifypotential challenges (including the adverse lifestyle behaviorscommon in a given age group) in the future stages of development anddetermine the best ways to address them.


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