Three Strategies for Parenting Children with Prenatal Exposure

Date: September 1, 2018 Author: ACO Administrator Categories: AdoptOntario | Special Needs


Hearing that a child has had a prenatal exposure experience can be an overwhelming concept. The internet is full of articles that seem to give no clear answers about the effects of possible prenatal exposure. One article will say that children’s functioning has been impacted for life and another will say the impacts are not so clear. What is important to remember about prenatal exposure experiences is that while the impacts of those experiences are not so clear, there are strategies parents can take to help support their children.

Before diving too deep into the specifics, it is important to note that “prenatal exposure experiences” include in-utero exposure to both drugs AND alcohol. With that context in mind, below are some strategies for parenting children who have had a prenatal exposure experience.

  • Put experiences into context.

    As mentioned above, the effects of prenatal exposure can be difficult to track back to one exposure experience. Early life experiences and early exposure to trauma can also have an impact on behaviours children have. While it may be tempting to connect behaviours to a child’s exposure experience, it is important to take all factors into account.
  • Build a routine.

    All children love routine but children who have been parentally exposed particularly thrive in a structured and routine environment. Routines can help children relax in their environments and build connections with the adults around them.
  • Be patient and informed.

    Children who have experienced prenatal exposure need patience and understanding from the adults around them. They also need adults who are ready to learn more about child development and how they can best support their child.

Want to expand your knowledge on prenatal exposure? The AdoptOntario team have created a specific section on their website all about this special need called Understanding Prenatal Drug and Alcohol Exposure.

Test your knowledge about prenatal exposure in children and youth through our quiz!

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