A lot of researchers have observed a child’s development for the entire life cycle, that is from infancy to childhood and throughout old age. After observation, various researchers have made a few assumptions on how a child’s instinct and response around him play a major role in their development. After years of research, Erikson has categorized an individual’s life cycle into 8 stages, each marked by internal crises referred to as periods or turning points. Each of these stages connects with a dental application.
- Hope – Basic Trust Versus Basic Mistrust
This stage focuses on infants, mainly aged 0 -1 years. Infants are known to form their first trust relationship with their caregiver. If the child is well-handled, nurtured, and loved, he develops trust and security with an optimistic attitude. If the child is not nurtured properly it might have adverse effects like insecurity and mistrust.
This stage connects with separation anxiety in the child. So while providing dental treatment to a child, it is preferable to do it with the parent present and preferably with the parent holding the child. This trust or mistrust occurs at all stages of life and maintaining trust is an important role of the dentist. If the child ends up with a mistrusting relationship, it will require special efforts to establish support with the dentist and staff.
- Will – Autonomy Versus Shame
This stage mainly talks about toddlers of 2-3 years. In this stage, the toddler begins to push for independence. The “well-parented” child emerges from this stage with confidence, satisfaction and pride for his newfound control. Here the child experiences a psychosocial crisis, which can be seen in self-will, tantrums, stubbornness, and negativism.
The child might be fine with the mother moving a bit far during treatment but still will retreat to her in threatening situations. So a parent’s presence is essential in the dental clinic. At this stage, as the children take pleasure in doing tasks by themself; the dentist must obtain cooperation from them by making them believe that the treatment is their choice, not of the dentist/parent.
- Purpose – Initiative Versus Guilt (4-6 years)
This stage looks at children aged 4 – 6 years. The child becomes more confident resulting in experiencing conflict and guilt. During this stage, a developing healthy child learns to:
- Broaden his skills through active play of all sorts
- Cooperate with others
- Lead as well as follow
Whereas experiencing guilt might result in
- Being an outcast in the group
- Depending on adults
- Restricted both in the development of play and imagination
Children can be encouraged to view their dental visit as a new adventure. If this visit fails, it can lead to a sense of guilt in the child. Children at this stage are flexible and so can be taught about various things in the dental setup. Independence has to be reinforced rather than dependent.
- Competence – Industry Versus Inferiority
This stage revolves around 7 – 12 years old children. Here the child learns basic cultural skills such as school skills. The child after solving the earlier psychosocial crises becomes trusting, autonomous, industrious and full of initiative. However, children who have experienced failure in previous stages will doubt the future and experience defeat and inferiority.
The child’s cooperation with treatment can be obtained. For that, the treatment needs to be positively reinforced. Cooperation at this stage depends on whether he/she understands what is needed to please dentists/parents, whether the peer group is supportive and whether the desired behavior is reinforced by the dentist.
- Fidelity – Identity Versus Role Confusion
The child, now an adolescent, fingers out the answer to “Who am I?”. Most of them are satisfied and happy with the answer. But even the
best-adjusted adolescents experience some role confusion.
Behavior management of adolescents can be challenging-option. Any orthodontic treatment should be carried out if a child wants it. Parent pressure should be the source of the orthodontic treatment at this stage. Approval of peer groups is extremely important.
- Love – Intimacy Versus Isolation
The successful young adult, for the first time, can experience true intimacy. The sort of intimacy that makes a possible good marriage or a genuine and enduring friendship.
At this stage, external appearances are very important as it helps in the attainment of intimate relationships. These young adults seek orthodontic treatment to correct their dental appearances and this is characterized as internal motivation. But the alteration of appearances can also interfere with previously established relations, so the treatment process must be fully explained.
- Care – Generativity Versus Stagnation
In adulthood, the psychosocial crisis demands generativity, both in the sense of marriage/parenthood and in the sense of working productively and creatively.
- Wisdom – Integrity Versus Despair
If the other seven psychosocial crises have been successfully resolved, the mature adult develops the peak of adjustment and integrity. He is independent, optimistic and has trust. He works hard, has found a well-defined role in life, and has developed a self-concept with which he is happy.
Understanding the patient’s psychology is important for a dentist to give their patients proper dental care. Positively enforcing psychology can help remove dental anxiety and make patients and children comfortable with the dental setup. For comfortable and friendly dental treatments Do visit Dr. Siva Nagini at Raghavendra Colony, Kondapur for your healthy smile.