Preemie Development - a quick look

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Keeping an eye on your preemies development can help you determine when a little help might be necessary.


Preemies aren't just small...

Sometimes preterm children can develop at different rates to a child born full term. In this way it is important to know the key developmental milestones and timeline so that you are able to give your preemie any help if required.

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General Strategies for Behavioural Difficulties in preterm children

Outlined in here are some general strategies that can be used for children with behavioural difficulties. These strategies can be useful for any children and they don’t need to have specific “difficulties” for you to help teach positive behaviours.

Point System

The "point system" is used as a simple way to reward positive outcomes.

How the "points system" might work.

  • Students can earn points for accomplishments; achieving prearranged goals that have been discussed and agreed to by the student, teacher, and parent, any valued activity or behaviour that occurs spontaneously during the school day.
  • Point values are assigned to various tasks and behaviours.
  • Teachers have the flexibility of increasing the point values or giving any assignment or activity a point value.
  • Points are accumulated and “cashed in” on a reward menu.
  • Points can be added on a continuing basis for a running total.
  • There can be a hierarchy of reward activities, such as extra computer or playground time.
  • The student decides when they will use their points within the rules.
  • This system is designed to enhance the delay of gratification for students.
  • It is important in any behavioural system that the student finds early success to “buy in” to the program.
  • Research suggests that response/cost can be successfully combined with a point system. Response/cost means that the student would lose points they have accumulated as a consequence for certain behaviours. Make sure that when using response/cost that the student has “bought in” to the point system with success and that the number of points deducted for consequences is less than the ones earned for accomplishing the same task/behaviour.

Cognitive Behavioural Approaches

The technique of “Stop- Think – Talk – Do” is used in many cognitive behavioural therapy interventions for students with attentional and impulsivity problems. This technique teaches the student to “stop” before acting impulsively, “think” about the cause-and-effect relationships of their intended behaviour, “say” or verbalise to themselves or others what they will do, and “do” the chosen behaviour. This approach can also be used effectively by parents.

Instead of confronting the student continually on activities and behaviours that are inappropriate, point out the alternative choices that are available. This will make the expectations clearer to them and avoid the negativity inherent in what they would perceive as criticism.
Reinforce children for their efforts, rather than the result.
Use positive commands that tell the child what to do rather than negative ones that focus on what not to do. 
It is important that appropriate behaviours are rewarded with praise.

Setting Goals

Helping the student identify attainable goals can be an extremely effective strategy.

  • Set goals that are simple and easy to understand.
  • Two to three goals are sufficient to begin any goal attainment intervention.
  • The criteria for success (or earning points) should be simple and clear.
  • Successful goal attainment early in the process is critical.
  • Ask the student to generate possible goal areas or have them choose from a menu that the teacher has created.
  • The larger the role played in identifying the goals, the greater investment they will have in reaching them.

Other issues to consider

Referral to Clinical Psychologist to assist with behaviour management. (Online links to clinical and neuropsychologistswill be available soon at



AlbertEinstein_iconOne of the greatest minds in history, Albert Einstein was born preterm.

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Preemie, Premmie, or Prem?

Most babies spend between 38 and 42 weeks in their mother’s uterus. So, technically a preterm birth, preemie, premmie, or prem, is an infant who is born less than 37 completed gestational weeks. 

Read More: Defining Preterm birth



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