"The simple routine of reading with your child ... can help bolster the child's success in school and beyond," the study's lead author told Rutgers Today

By Jen Juneau
May 28, 2019 01:38 PM
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A new study is suggesting that reading with your child early on may be associated with gentler parenting and have a positive impact on juvenile behavior.

The results, published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, came after researchers investigated 2,165 mother-child pairs and discovered that reading together at ages 1 and 3 were associated with “less harsh parenting” later, at ages 3 and 5, respectively.

Additionally, when interviewed at a later date, the mothers who read with their children more often reported fewer “disruptive behaviors” than their counterparts.

“These findings suggest that shared reading contributes to an important aspect of the parent-child relationship and that some of the association operates through enhanced child behaviors,” the study notes.

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The lead researcher on the study — Dr. Manuel Jimenez, an attending developmental behavioral pediatrician at Children’s Specialized Hospital and assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics — spoke to Rutgers Today about what the conclusions mean for moms and dads.

“For parents, the simple routine of reading with your child on a daily basis provides not just academic but emotional benefits that can help bolster the child’s success in school and beyond,” he said.

“Our findings can be applied to programs that help parents and caregivers in underserved areas to develop positive parenting skills,” Dr. Jimenez added.

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And the actual reading format might have a big impact on the parent-child dynamic, too. In March, a study published by the journal Pediatrics suggested that toddlers who read from a screen are less likely to interact with their parents than those who read from a traditional print book.

According to the results, “parents and toddlers verbalized less with electronic books, and collaboration was lower.” (From 2011 to 2014, Americans who read electronic books rose from 17 to 28 percent, according to data from the Pew Research Center.)

“Future studies should examine specific aspects of tablet-book design that support parent-child interaction,” the study continued. “Pediatricians may wish to continue promoting shared reading of print books, particularly for toddlers and younger children.”

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