Autonomy and shame and suspicion in psychosocial stage 2

Very good / Nusa Ashje

Autonomy and shame and suspicion are the second stage of Eric Erickson’s psychosocial development. This stage occurs from 18 months to 2 or 3 years old. According to Erickson, children at this stage focus on developing a stronger sense of self-control.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the main events in this stage of psychosocial development.


  • Psychosocial conflict: autonomy and shame and suspicion
  • The main question: “Can I do things on my own or rely on the help of others?”
  • Fundamental Virtue: Will
  • Important activity: toilet training

Autonomy and shame and suspicion are based on the previous stage

Erickson’s psychosocial development theory describes a series of eight stages that occur throughout life. The first stage of development, trust and distrust, are all about cultivating a sense of trust in the world. The next stage, autonomy and shame and suspicion, build on the foundation of the early stage, laying the foundation for the future stage.

What will happen in stage 2

If you are a parent, or you have interacted with a child between 18 months and 3 years old, then you may have witnessed many of the characteristics of autonomy and shame and doubt. It is at this stage of development that young children begin to express a greater need for independence and control over themselves and the world around them.

In the previous stage of development, trust and distrust, children are almost entirely dependent on the care and safety of others. It is at this stage that children have established a foundation of trust in the world. However, when they enter the second stage, it is important for young children to begin to develop a sense of personal independence and control. When they learn to do things for themselves, they build a sense of control over themselves and develop some basic confidence in their abilities.

Important task

At this stage of development, it is important to gain a sense of personal control over the world. Children at this age are becoming more and more independent and want more control over their behaviors and methods. In the developmental stages of autonomy and shame and doubt, there are many different tasks that are usually important.

  • Toilet training plays an important role; learning to control one’s body functions brings a sense of control and independence.
  • Other important events include gaining more control over food choices, toy preferences, and clothing choices.
  • Children at this stage of development usually feel the need to do things independently, such as choosing the clothes they want to wear every day, putting on their own clothes, and deciding what to eat. Although this usually frustrates parents and caregivers, it is an important part of developing a sense of self-control and personal autonomy.

Children who successfully complete this stage will feel safe and confident, while those who have not completed this stage will feel inadequate and self-doubt. This stage is also an important part of future development. Children who are confident in their skills are more likely to succeed in subsequent tasks, such as mastering social, academic, and other skills.

What can parents do to encourage success?

At this stage of psychosocial development, parents can do many things to promote success.

  • Provide independent opportunities for children. Let them make choices about food, clothes, and toys, and make sure they do well.
  • Support during toilet training, but no punishment for accidents.
  • Provide a safe place where children can play independently with the support and guidance of a trusted caregiver.

Reassuring children and believing in their abilities is essential for developing a sense of autonomy and confidence.Negative parents or parents who punish their children for simple mistakes can lead to shame or self-doubt.