A child born prematurely is at a disadvantage as it grows up. The preemies are likely to suffer from disabilities and impairments both physical and mental. This affects their growth and development in comparison to other children of their age.
Slower mental development calls for special care when they enter school. Recent research has brought hopes for them as it suggests that sensitive parenting can counter the adverse effects of premature birth
Sensitive parenting can significantly increase the academic performance of very preterm and very low birth weight (VP/VLBW) children, according to researchers from the University of Warwick. It was found that parents can help the preemies to match their performance with their full term contemporaries at age 13 if cognitively stimulating parenting was started when they were 6 years old.
The report, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, is based on the study of two groups of German children comprising 338 VP/VLBW and 314 full term children. The academic performance of preemies under sensitive parental care improved drastically and brought then at par with the full term children whereas preemies with low sensitivity parental care lagged behind.
Sensitive parental care and cognitively stimulating parenting involves encouraging the children to think for themselves and attempt to do their studies on their own, instead of doing their homework for them. This is achieved by doing things jointly. Reading a book to them and asking questions or solving puzzles together stimulates their ability to understand and solve problems. Intelligent and skilful parenting strengthens the child’s self control and makes them more focussed.
Perhaps, there should be more of special schools to train parents than special schools for the preemies, which makes them feel separated from the mainstream.