Preemie Development - a quick look

quick look preemiehelp

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.

Select from the menu items for related information...

Strategies for Social Difficulties

Some children, whether they are born preemie or not, have difficulties with some aspects of thinking. This section provides some recommendations for specific skills that are important for learning.

General Social Difficulties in Preemies

Children with social problems may have difficulty in some of these areas:

  • Experience great difficulty picking up others’ social cues
  • May act impulsively
  • Have limited self-awareness of their effect on others
  • Display delayed role-taking ability
  • Over-personalise others’ actions as being criticism, and tend not to recognise positive feedback.
  • Tend to play better with younger or older children when their roles are clearly defined.
  • Repeat self-defeating social behaviour patterns and not learn from experience.
  • Conversationally, they may ramble and say embarrassing things to peers

Strategies for Social Skills in Preemies at Home

Your child may benefit from a structured social group such as Scouts or Nippers, to develop their social skills. If your child has academic difficulties, they would benefit from participating in any structured extra-curricular activity where they can experience success, to develop their self-confidence. These activities can also help develop appropriate social skills.


Strategies for Social Skills in Preemies at School

Strategies for Teachers

Strategies for teachers to use when a student is experiencing social difficulties

  • Enlisting the support of peers in the classroom can greatly enhance the student’s self-esteem. Students with good social awareness and who like to be helpful can be paired with them. This pairing can take the form of being a “study buddy”, doing activities, undertaking projects, or playing on the playground.
  • Cross-age tutoring with older or younger students can also have social benefits. Most successful pairing is done with adequate preparation of the paired student, plan meetings with the pair to be fairly limited in scope to increase the opportunity for success and lessen the constraints on the paired students.
  • Students with attentional problems tend to do well in the cooperative group instructional format. Small student groupings of 3 to 5, in which the students succeed or fail together to complete assignments or projects, encourage students to share organisational ideas and responsibilities, and give an ideal setting for processing interpersonal skills on a regular basis.
  • Small “play groups” of 2 to 4 students can help the student to develop more effective social skills. They are most effective if socially competent peers are willingly included in the group. The group should be focused on activities that stress interaction and cooperation. Board games, building projects, and sessions that promote frequent verbal interactions provide the greatest opportunity for learning appropriate social skills and controlling impulsivity. The student would benefit most if the “targeted” social skills were identified and practiced with them before the activity was carried out and then discussed and processed after the activity.
  • Often children with social difficulties don’t have many friends to socialise with outside of school. It can be beneficial to develop a “friendship plan” in discussion with parents and the student. This could include identifying suitable individuals and practicing making plans over the phone, planning a day-out, or a sleep over, that is structured and predictable. Perhaps provide tips on how to maintain friendships over time.
  • For students with extreme social difficulties, thirty minutes on the playground while maintaining successful peer relations can be a great challenge. Consider breaking-up the recess into 10 - 15 minutes of activity and have the student check-in with the teacher or playground supervisor before continuing on with their peers.
  • Restricting the area available for the student during recess can increase the contact with the teacher or playground supervisor and lessen the complexity of social decision-making. This can be done privately with the student prior to recess and it should be emphasised that it is to help them and is not a punishment.Many students welcome this manner of simplifying their social interactions during this period of low structure.
  • Meet with the student before their recess and lunch time period to review the activity. Have the student ask a peer in advance to do a certain activity with them at recess or lunch. Debrief with the student after recess and make suggestions for the following day. Provide positive reinforcement to enhance self-esteem and confidence.
  • Holding classroom meetings can be a great way of creating an atmosphere of respect and understanding. Concerns over assignments, activities, and interpersonal relationships can be dealt with in the context of acceptance and understanding.
  • Offer feedback to child when they have clearly misinterpreted a situation. Tell them clearly what has occurred. Actions or statements need to be clear and obvious because children with social difficulties sometimes have trouble interpreting subtleties or body language.
  • Referral to Clinical Psychologist to assist with behaviour management.
(Findlay, Coplan, & Bowker, 2009; Msall & Park, 2008; Wolke & Meyer, 1999; Zeman, Cassano, Perry-Parrish, & Stegall, 2006)

Technical Reference List

Findlay, L. C., Coplan, R. J., & Bowker, A. (2009). Keeping it all inside: Shyness, internalizing coping strategies and socio-emotional adjustment in middle childhood. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 33(1), 47-54. Msall, M. E., & Park, J. J. (2008). The spectrum of behavioral outcomes after extreme prematurity: Regulatory, attention, social, and adaptive dimensions. Seminars in Perinatology, 32(1), 42-50. Wolke, D., & Meyer, R. (1999). Cognitive status, language attainment, and prereading skills of 6-year-old very preterm children and their peers: the Bavarian Longitudinal Study. Dev Med Child Neurol, 41(2), 94-109. Zeman, J., Cassano, M., Perry-Parrish, C., & Stegall, S. (2006). Emotion regulation in children and adolescents. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 27(2), 155-168.



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

Help us help you!

help us help you! is here to provide preemie information, community and solutions to the people that need it most... you!
Preemie Help is also looking to provide a resource for any professionals that have contact with preterm babies and children in order to help them best understand the challenges that face a preemie. Get in contact to help us impact preemies.

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



New Release - Preemie Development

All in one easy to read eguide

‘The complete preemie guide to: ‘Preemie development’ is the must have guide to the NICU for new preemie parents.

With an easy-to-read layout this comprehensive guide is over 130 pages of important information about the NICU and your preemie.

Using Adobe’s .pdf format makes the guide usable across a wide range of platforms from ipad to PC, smartphone to macbook.

Packed with extra features like progress charts, NICU checklists and plenty of others. ‘The preemie guide’ is a must for any new parents.