How Children Learn
Child and Adolescent Psychology
Dr. Jeanne Henry
March 16, 2009
Sigmund Freud divided development into distinct stages, the first of which he categorized as the oral stage, which continued throughout the first eight months of a child’s life. It was characterized by the child’s dependence on oral stimuli and gratification, as evinced by feeding and oral exploration of new objects, and reflected the desire for immediate gratification which Freud saw as represented by the Id, the basic and uncontrolled desire of all humans which is controlled by the Ego in later stages of development.
This control is seen to become apparent in the next stage, the anal phase, which lasts until around the age of two, and demonstrates the way in which the child learns to balance his own desire for
gratification, as demonstrated by defecation, with the wishes of others (the parents’ and hence society’s insistence that defecation only takes place at appropriate times and in an appropriate environment).
In the third or phallic stage, the child’s focus of attention shifts from the anal to the genital region, as evinced by overt sexual behavior such as masturbation. Freud saw this phase as characterized by the manifestation of the Oedipus and Electra complexes, in which the child demonstrated envy of the same-sex parent.
From six years old until puberty, the child remains in the latent stage of development, whereby sexuality is of far less importance than the assimilation of cultural and social values and the learning of socially acceptable behavior. The ego, by which the child learned to delay gratification in order to interact more acceptably with his immediate environment, is further refined to develop the superego, which acts as the control over social behavior.
From puberty until the age of eighteen, the period covered by adolescence, Freud considered the child to be in the genital phase, which...