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  • Writer's pictureMelissa Manente

Let's talk Erikson

We are not going to discuss the validity of the research methods of Erikson. What we are going to do is discuss at face value his psycho-social stages. I have always liked Erikson's stages mainly because they make sense without all that psychobabble.

As I write this, I am about 48 hours from having a middle and high schooler ( take deep breaths). And according to Erikson, they are both in Identify vs. Role Confusion ( or just Confusion). It is becoming increasingly apparent that while my guidance is essential ( did you finish your summer reading assignment?), my nagging is unnecessary. And if it were needed, I would reevaluate myself as a parent.

A strong and stable sense of self is crucial for this stage and is usually associated with better mental health than those who do not have a sound understanding of self. So, what is a stable sense of self? Independence, for one. Good relationship with peers as another. Constructing your own sense of self, and most importantly, finding their " people," even if that means trying multiple different things.

Let's go back to the nagging parent. I use that term because it is essential to differentiate between nagging and caring. And at this stage, most kids assume everything is nagging. It is our time to step back as parents and let our kids make mistakes so they can learn from them. I am not talking about life-altering mistakes like drugs, alcohol, or unprotected sex, but mistakes such as not doing an assignment, not studying, skipping practice, etc. Parents must let their kids lead and see how it works out at this stage. Allowing independence will make our kids more confident to come back and ask for help. But when we hover, we do not allow our children's freedom to see where they need help and where they can independently control their lives.

I get it; we all want the best for our kids. We want them to grow up and be good humans. But ask yourself next time you are talking with your teen: Am I talking to them, or am I talking at them?

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