Each of the stages of development in Erikson's theory is a "sensitive phase" that represents the optimum time period within which to resolve a crisis (Slater & Bremner, 2003). Whether the resolution is positive or negative, the results function as the foundation of the next crisis period (Slater & Bremner, 2003).
Middle childhood, was also termed the Latency stage by Erikson and occurred during the ages of 6-11 years (Slater & Bremner, 2003). The beginning of this period paralleled the concrete operational stage of cognitive development of Jean Piaget's (1952), where the child begins to conceptualise more systematically, can consider several factors of a situation at once (decentration), begins to classify and categorize, and can perform conservation (as cited in Austrian, 2002). The child must resolve the socio-emotional conflict of inferiority vs. accomplishment (Slater & Bremner, 2003). Children at this time are encouraged to work together on tasks and so the child compares their ability to create and achieve goals with the achievements met by their peers (Austrian, 2002). The significant others at this time, according to Erikson, will be peers at school and in their neighbourhood (Slater & Bremner, 2003). However, their social sphere in general is extending beyond their parents and family, to incorporate teachers and other members of the community with whom they are coming into more contact with (Slater & Bremner, 2003). As such, all these social beings contribute to the socio-emotional growth of the child (Slater & Bremner, 2003). Systematic instruction is required for the child during the latency stage, with the direct involvement of relevant role models critical to the child's development of a sense of industry (Coughlan & Welsh-Breetzke, 2002). Lev Vygotsky (1978) also emphasised the critical need for social interaction for development, although his theory focused on the social process of learning for cognitive development (as cited in Austrian, 2002). According to moral theory of Lawrence Kholberg (1970), middle childhood is a time of progressing from the stages of preconventional to conventional morality (as cited in Austrian, 2002). Hence, the opinions of social others become more important and the child's behaviour conforms to meet social norms (Austrian, 2002).
Erikson viewed the latency period as a developmental period where the child must learn to tame their imagination, and orient themselves towards learning the social norms of their culture, and of learning the educational requirements for their age (Slater & Bremner, 2003). The child continues to develop their sense of autonomy and independence as initiated in the