As one examines the social development of a gifted child, it is important to remember that each child is unique, respect the basic nature of the child, and remember that cognitive abilities are just one part of the child's identity influencing social development. Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development suggests that all individuals, including those with exceptional abilities, must move through eight developmental stages, five of which occur before adulthood:

  • Infancy: trust versus mistrust
  • Toddler: autonomy versus shame and doubt
  • Preschooler: initiative versus guilt
  • Elementary school age: industry versus inferiority
  • Adolescence: identity versus identity confusion

Within each of these stages, the child will face a crisis that must be resolved. If the child is successful in meeting these challenges, then basic strengths or virtues will emerge. ...

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