Dr. Melnyk describes how parents can ensure their premature baby has an emotionally healthy life.
I think the most important thing that I can tell a parent about how to help your child long term when they are born prematurely is not to overprotect that child and treat them really fragile. There are so many children who are born prematurely that end up having emotional and behavioral problems because of the way they are parented.
Because they were born prematurely, again, a lot of times parents see those babies as fragile and as a result of that, they overprotect their children as they grow. They are afraid to discipline those children. They are afraid to limit set with those children, and as a result their children end up not developing good self-emotional regulation.
So we do see a lot of behavioral and emotional problems later on in children of per-terms, not because of the prematurity, but because of the way they have been parented as fragile little children.
About Dr. Melnyk, Ph.D., R.N.:
Dr. Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, Ph.D., R.N., is Dean and Distinguished Foundation Professor in Nursing at the Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation. She is noted for her dedication to improving the health of children and teens, educational and research innovation, interdisciplinary healthcare, and evidence-based practice to deliver quality patient outcomes.
Dr. Melnyk earned a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree from the West Virginia University School of Nursing, a Master’s of Science in nursing with a specialization in nursing care of children as a pediatric nurse practitioner from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. in clinical nursing research from the University of Rochester (New York). She also has completed her post-master’s certificate as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.