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Parents should read with toddlers to boost child behaviour

by Ayodeji Lateef
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Scientists have urged parents to read with their toddlers continuously to ensure they do not engage in harsh parenting and to possibly enhance children’s behaviour. The study is published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.

According to researchers such a shared reading facilitates a stronger parent-child bond and less hyperactivity and attention problems in children. Scientists at Rutgers University in the have for the first time highlighted additional benefits of shared reading habits.

According to the research, data on 2,165 mother-child pairs from 20 large cities were reviewed in which the women were asked how often they read to their children at ages one and three. The mothers were re-interviewed two years later, about how often they engaged in physically and/or psychologically aggressive discipline and about their children’s behaviour. The study controlled for factors such as parental depression and financial hardship that can contribute to harsh parenting and children’s disruptive behaviour.

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The study observed that frequent shared reading at age one was associated with less harsh parenting at age three, and frequent shared reading at age three was associated with less harsh parenting at age five.

Mothers who read frequently with their children also reported less disruptive behaviour from their children, which may partially explain the reduction in harsh parenting behaviours.

The findings can be used further to design programmes promoting the academic, emotional and socioeconomic well-being of children, researchers said.

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