Because developmental tasks play such an important role in setting guidelines for normal development, anything that interferes with their mastery may be regarded as a potential hazard. There are three very common potential hazards related to developmental tasks. The first is inappropriate expectations; either individuals themselves or the social group may expect the development of behaviour that is impossible at the time because of physical or psychological limitations.

A second potential hazard is the bypassing of a stage of development as a result of failure to master the tasks for that stage of development. The crises individuals experience when they pass from one stage to another comprise the third common potential hazard arising from developmental tasks. Even though an individual may have mastered the developmental tasks for one stage satisfactorily, having to master a new set of tasks appropriate for the next stage inevitably brings with it tension and stress – conditions that can lead to a crisis. For example, men whose working lives have come to an end often experience a “retirement crisis,” in which they feel that the prestige and personal satisfaction associated with the job have also come to an end.

Sooner or later all people become aware that they are expected to master certain developmental tasks at various periods during their lives. Each individuals also becomes aware of being “early,” “late,” or “on time” with regard to these tasks. It is this awareness that affects their own attitudes and behaviour as well as the attitudes of others toward them.

Although most people would like to master developmental tasks at the appropriate time, some are unable to do so, while others are ahead of schedule. Details below gives some of the most important factors that influence mastery of developmental tasks

Factors Influencing Mastery of Developmental Tasks

Handicaps to Mastery

  • A retarded developmental level
  • Lack of opportunity to learn the developmental tasks or lack of guidance in their mastery.
  • Lack of motivation
  • Poor health
  • Physical defects
  • A low intellectual level

Aids to Mastery

  • A normal or accelerated developmental level
  • Opportunities to learn the developmental tasks and guidance in mastering them
  • Motivation
  • Good health and the absence of physical defects
  • A high level of intelligence
  • Creativity

Regardless of the cause, there are two serious consequences of failure to master developmental tasks. One is that unfavourable social judgments are inevitable; members of the individual’s peer group regard him or her as immature, a label which carries-a stigma at any age. This leads to unfavourable self-judgments, which in turn lead to unfavourable concepts of self.

Another consequence is that the foundations for the mastery of later developmental tasks are inadequate. As a result, individuals continue to lag behind their peers, and this increases their feelings of inadequacy. Equally serious, they must try to master developmental tasks appropriate for the next stages of development at the same time that they are trying to complete the mastery of the tasks appropriate for the age level from which they have just emerged. Children who are unprepared to enter school will find that their attempts to catch up to their age-mates only intensify their feelings of inadequacy and reinforce judgments of their immaturity.