When it comes to child development, there are so many different factors that can make a huge difference. We know that nature plays a significant role, and some aspects of your child's development are inherited. However, we can do so much good (and not so good) when it comes to how we nurture our kids. How we parent and the things we do with our kids can influence their development in a major way.
For example, we know by now that reading to and with our toddlers can help their language and emotional skills, and prepare them for school. But new research shows that reading to our toddlers may have an even greater impact than we realized, both on our kids and on us as parents. A new study suggests that reading with your toddler can help enhance the parent-child bond, regulate childhood behaviors, and even positively influence your own parenting behaviors.
The study was led by Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School researchers and published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. While previous studies in shared reading have focused on how it benefits children, this may be the first study of its kind to address how shared reading also benefits parents.
Researchers reviewed data from 2,165 mother-child pairs from 20 large U.S. cities. The women were asked how often they read to their toddlers at the ages of 1 and 3. Two years later, the women were interviewed again and asked about their children's behavior and about how often they as parents engaged in physically and/or psychologically aggressive discipline. The results showed that frequent shared reading at the age of 1 resulted in less aggressive or harsh parenting at the age of 3.
More shared reading at age 3 had the same result at the age of 5. The mothers who reported frequent shared reading at all ages also reported fewer behavioral issues with their kids.
Reading with your toddlers is a fundamental part of parenting. And while the focus has long been on how shared reading benefits kids with developing language and emotional skills, it's neat to see a study that shows how shared reading also benefits parents and parenting technique.