Emotional Skills





Socio-Emotional Development Following Very Preterm Birth:  Pathways to Psychopathology

Anita Montagna and Chiara Nosarti

"Very preterm birth (VPT; < 32 weeks of gestation) has been associated with an increased risk to develop cognitive and socio-emotional problems, as well as with increased vulnerability to psychiatric disorder, both with childhood and adult onset. Socio-emotional impairments that have been described in VPT individuals include diminished social competence and self-esteem, emotional dysregulation, shyness and timidity. However, the etiology of socio-emotional problems in VPT samples and their underlying mechanisms are far from understood."


Premature babies that were born less than 32 weeks have an increased risk to develop socio-emotional problems. Adults start gaining emotional skills as babies and gain new skills as they get older.  All of us struggle with controlling our emotions when triggered however those that have emotional dysfunction have a more difficult and prolonged time which can lead to disruptions in relationships and daily functioning.

Adults emotional skills include the following:

  • Identify emotions you are feeling
  • Ability to soothe your own emotions
  • Identify what emotions someone else is feeling and having empathy
  • Are more aware of others perceptions
  • Try to express feelings with words but may resort to aggression when upset.

Emotional dysfunction is the extreme side of not being able to manage emotions and difficulty calming down when upset and might include:

  • Excessive crying
  • Extreme Anger
  • risk taking
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Eating orders
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Promiscuity
  • Physical aggression toward self or others


Learning breathing and relaxation techniques can help with self-regulation.

Learning about emotional intelligence, discussing what it means, and learning what it means to be comfortable with your feelings and being able to express yourself is also helpful.

Adults should go to a counsellor or psychologist in severe cases. Medicating is always a concern but, in some cases, medication combined with therapy is more beneficial than therapy alone

The worst thing you can do to yourself is to sweep your emotions under the carpet. It is dangerous to your health. Don’t deny your emotions, Feel them as it is the beginning of healing to every pain”
Awazie Ikechi

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].