NURTURE INFORMATION HUB
INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION PROBLEMS
Social development of children born very preterm: a systematic review
Kirsten Ritchie, Samudragupta Bora & Lianne J Woodward.
Children born very preterm are at increased risk of social competence difficulties throughout childhood and adolescence. Several developmental trends were also evident including social adjustment difficulties, evidence of poorer interpersonal behaviour and suggestions that social-cognitive processing may be spared in children born very preterm, at least during early childhood.
Parents, teachers, or service providers, such as psychologists, can positively influence an at-risk child's social competence by guiding the child, and giving advice and feedback, by providing opportunities for social interaction and prompting appropriate behaviours. By teaching children about their emotions, they can understand and cope with them as well as interpret how peers may be feeling.
Being born too early or too small does not mean your child will have problems with socializing or making friends but it is helpful to know that this could be something to keep in mind when your child starts school and during the ages of 6 – 12 years. There are a lot of different factors that make up the temperament of your child but children that are born very preterm are at increased risk. Social adjustment difficulties in children born very preterm showing up early and can persist into adolescence. These difficulties tend to be in socializing. What you would notice is withdrawal in their peer relationship but not as aggressive naughty behaviour. Boys tend to show this problem more than girls and it could be because they tend to have communication problems more than girls do.
The development of good social skills is left to the keen eye of the parents and teachers that have an understanding of the challenges of the premature baby who is now a school age child.
Signs of Interpersonal Communication problems are as follows:
Take time to give yourself permission to accept that there might be a problem but also knowing that this can be helped. This is a problem but also an opportunity to grow. Making sure that your own self talk is supportive and kind to yourself. As a parent of a premature or sick baby you have weathered through a number of issues and your ability to bounce back could be your strong point by now and with little eyes watching you become a role model to how they bounce back from difficulties.
Speak with your family GP or school counsellor about your concerns and they can help refer you and your child for further support. Some questions to ask: