In 1956 the psychologist E Erikson suggested that we move through different periods as we age, reflecting different developmental stages.


The first five stages cover childhood years and the main developmental tasks centre on whether we are able to put trust in parents / caregivers to meet our needs and then able to develop a range of skills to cope in different situations including school.


From 18 years there is a focus on exploring relationships and giving, often through being a parent or in work or through participating in other activities.


And the final stage is about moving into old age, looking back on life and reflecting on our experience.


Some people will navigate these stages easily and will have good experiences; other people will face difficulties at different times. But change will be a constant process and resilience helps us adjust to the changes we face.

Click on the ages below to find out more about each of Erikson’s 8 life stages

Birth to 1 year

Stage: Trust versus mistrust

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
HOPE: trust in primary caregiver and in one’s own ability to make things happen (secure attachment to caregiver is key)

1 to 3 years

Stage: Autonomy versus shame & doubt

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
WILL: new physical skills lead to demand for more choices, most often seen as saying “no” to caregivers; child learns self-care skills such as toileting

3 to 6 years

Stage:Initiative versus guilt

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
PURPOSE: ability to organise activities around some goal; more assertiveness and aggressiveness (harsh parental criticism may lead to guilt)

6 to 12 years

Stage: Industry versus inferiority

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
COMPETENCE: cultural skills and norms, including school skills and tool use (failure to master these leads to sense of inferiority)

12 to 18 years

Stage: Identity versus role confusion

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
FIDELITY: a unified and consistent sense of self that integrates pubertal changes into a mature sexual identity, assumes adult social and occupational roles and establishes personal values and attitudes

18 to 30 years

Stage: Intimacy versus isolation

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
LOVE: person develops intimate relationships beyond adolescent love; many become parents

30 to old age

Stage: Generativity versus stagnation

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
CARE: people rear children, focus on occupational achievement or creativity and train the next generation; turn outward from the self towards others

Old age

Stage: Integrity versus despair

Positive characteristics gained and typical activities:
WISDOM: person conducts a life review, integrates earlier stages and comes to terms with basic identity; develops self-acceptance

You can download a table of the 8 life stages here

What does resilience mean to you? Leave your thoughts for others in the comments box below