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A Simple Way to Handle Your Hyperactive Child and Help Him Focus
  • How often do you read to your toddler? Experts strongly advise parents to set up a reading habit at home and starting as soon as you bring your baby home from the hospital. The activity supports many benefits including early literacy and parent-child bonding. Now, new research also suggests it may lead to fewer hyperactivity and attention problems in children. 

    Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study involved near 700 parent-child pairs with newborns to 3-year-olds from a hospital serving low-income families. From there, 450 pairs were enrolled in a program called the "Video Interaction Project" (VIP). The others were enrolled in another program that included hand-outs and learning materials for parents, and the rest were tagged as the control group.

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    The VIP program was conducted during the child’s pediatric well-baby checkups and ran for up to 15 sessions each lasting 30 minutes. The parents were videotaped reading and playing with their child for five minutes. Immediately afterward, the moms and dads reviewed the footage with a facilitator “to identify positive interactions and reflect,” reported MDedge

    “Researchers found that children in families participating in the program had fewer attention problems and fewer disruptive behaviors such as hyperactivity and aggression when they started school,” says a news release from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 

    What's more, the program was continued with some parent-child pairs where the children were past 3 years old, and the effects were even greater.

    “Study findings are especially significant for parents, as they show that reading aloud and playing together with children can help them have better control of their behavior, which is important for learning when they begin school,” added the AAP. 

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    Local experts have spoken to SmartParenting.com.ph about the connection between a child’s ability to focus and reading habits.

    “Stories are a great way to help toddlers increase their attention spans. If your toddler listens to a story for five minutes, that’s a long time,” says pediatrician Dr. Carmen Ramos-Bonoan, the national director of the Philippine Ambulatory Pediatric Association (PAPA) and key proponent of PAPA's “Reach Out & Read” program.

    If you have yet to establish a storytime routine at home, it’s not too late to start! Here are a few tips from a few local experts and reading advocates:

    1. Establish a reading routine 
    “Set a regular time in the day when you will read together,” said Ruth Martin-De Guzman, executive director of Adarna Group Foundation (AGFI) whose mission is to promote early literacy among Filipino children. 

    “At first, get books that are short and make the reading activity brief. It will also help if you will get books with themes that interest him (books about trucks, books about food). When the routine has been established, get books that are lengthier to prolong the reading time.” 

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    2. Bring books when you go out instead of gadgets 
    “Gadgets are more for the parents' convenience rather than the child's development. Children can live without gadgets just as we lived without them when we were growing up. We turned out just fine, didn't we?” said Martin-De Guzman. 

    Have more than one book, too. “If the first book turns out to be boring, then you have the second and third. My eldest son grew up knowing that when we're going on a long car ride, he packs his bag with things he's chosen to keep him entertained and busy,” said Michelle Lichauco-Tambunting, co-founder and directress of Young Creative Minds Preschool. “Let gadgets and screens be your last defense.” 

    3. Do not force your child to read
    Says Martin-De Guzman, “It will only make him think that reading is a chore more than a pleasurable activity.” If your child loses interest in the middle of storytime, it’s okay to stop and try again next time. 

    And if you feel your child will enjoy a little more flourish to the words or you want to personalize the story to suit him, feel free. You can even read a book by just talking about the pictures. Showing interest is what’s important. 

    Happy reading!

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