During a previous request for topic ideas, I received an email suggesting that I post regarding specific parenting or behavioral issues surrounding children who were born premature. I had to do a little research on this one, but I was able to find some special issues that may develop in children who were born premature.
Premature babies often struggle with medical and behavioral issues that are both present at birth and others that may develop in the first few years of their lives. Behavior issues may develop for a variety of reasons. One possibility is that parents of premature children are sometimes more protective of their child, which is totally understandable. However, if parents are not willing to use discipline and enforce rules with the children, then more significant behavioral problems will likely develop. Specific behavior problems thought to be more common in children who were born premature are defiance, temper issues, aggressiveness, inattention problems, and extreme shyness. While it may be difficult, it is important to remember that all children, regardless of whether they were born premature or have other medical conditions, still need some type of guidance and redirection when rules are broken. By starting this early on, parents can be sure their children are prepared when it is time to enter the school system.
Learning disabilities are also more common in children who were born premature. Parents should be observant of possible learning problems and get extra help as soon as a deficit becomes apparent. The sooner learning deficits are discovered and treated the better the chances are for the child to make advances and catch up to an age appropriate level. Head Start and other programs for Pre-School age children can be helpful in this regard. As with many other children's issues, early intervention is best.
With a little extra attention and support from parents and professionals early on, premature children can make great strides and often catch up to peers developmentally within a few years. Parents just need to be educated on specific issues and try to stay positive throughout the process.