Monday, February 18, 2013

Temper Tantrums and the Preemie Child

This is something that we have been dealing with for several years with two of the granddaughters.  They will seem just fine, and then they are told "no", or some other child does something they don't like, and the screaming, throwing themselves on the floor, running away and similar behaviors start.  Anyone else deal with this too?

I have tried to find information on the web and haven't had a lot of luck, so I'm just going to tell you about our experiences and what we did.  If you have any ideas or advice, please comment and share it with the rest of us.

One granddaughter, who was 28 weeks and weighed 2 lb 10 oz has had lots of temper tantrums and "melt downs".  She is now seven, and is actually outgrowing some of it.  We have had lots of talks about her behavior, and we have prayed over her and with her to ask Jesus to help her control her anger.  That is what it boils down to sometimes is great anger.  We make her go to her room and tell her to get herself under control.  At first she ended up beating the walls or kicking them, and throwing things all over the room.  So, we had to go upstairs and stop her from doing that.  I had held her in my arms and kept her from hitting and kicking many times  the same way you would restrain an autistic child.  Thankfully, as she has gotten older and bigger, and I had trouble hanging on to her, she has also tried to control herself more.

I talk quietly to her, telling her to take a deep breath and calm herself.  She will most often come across the bed to me, to hold her.  She cries and tells me how upset she is.  We pray together, breathe together (holding her to my chest and doing deep breathing--in through the mouth, out through the nose--helps her to regulate her own breathing.  Eventually, the anger will pass and you wouldn't even know she had been that upset. I think that these children can learn to control themselves, as long as they know you will be there to help them.  

I know that that works with the other granddaughter who exhibits symptoms of autism.  However, she is older and gets more violent in her "trashing" around.  I have to go to her and speak quietly, and sometimes just take her face in my hands to get her to focus.  It is more difficult to handle her, but we work at it.  She and the other granddaughter really have different issues, but the melt-downs are pretty much the same.

Anyone handle these things differently?  I will continue to search for information on this issue.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Issues Former Preemies Face as They Get Older

I thought I might address some things today, as they are also things that we, as a family, deal with on a daily basis.  Four of my granddaughters (including the oldest who now lives in heaven) were less than 4 lbs, weighing 3 lb 13 oz, 3 lb 8 oz, and 3 lb 7 oz.  One weighed only 2 lb 10 oz.  

Most people think that preemies will "outgrow" any problem they have had, just as they gain weight and usually are normal in size compared to full-term children.  This is not true.  Because they were born early, some things that should have  developed before birth may never fully develop. These are mostly neurological development issues that must be overcome or coped with. They may experience coordination problems, both large and small muscle development.  They may experience language problems: speech, understanding directions, learning to read.  They may experience thinking problems: memory, abstract understanding and understanding explanations. 

While these problems may be disconcerting, the issues that bother parents and teachers the most are the behavior difficulties.  They can vary from being too shy, to too "outgoing".  From being too loud, to refusing to speak to people.  Temper tantrums and refusal to obey those in authority can be big issues. Some can be overly aggressive and boisterous in their play.  Others may refuse to play with other children. 

When I deal with one of these behavioral problems I have to remember that the child simply cannot control his emotions, much as an autistic child. While some parents really want to "baby" the child because of all he/she has been through in the hospital, they are really doing the child a disservice.  They must remain consistent, and structured to give the child security.

Here are some links you might find helpful:

In the next blog I will address things I have done to help these children in their development.