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Reading With Your Child Reduces 'Harsh Parenting,' Study Finds
PHOTO BY @ilkercelik/iStock
  • Who among you has had days when you felt like you were such a bad parent, you wanted to disappear from the face of the earth? Here. Guilty. Of course I never meant to say that, or use that tone, or use up all my energy to yell at my toddler, but that’s that. Bad days happen. Still, that’s no consolation for any parent who behaved badly in front of her child.

    There is hope, however. If you’re tired of the cycle of being grumpy towards your child and then feeling sorry about it later on, a new study says try reading with your child even before they turn 1.

    Well, we already know that reading with your child helps you foster a stronger relationship with him. However, recent research done at Rutgers University suggests that shared moments with your child while you read a book “was associated with less harsh parenting.” Now that’s good news for all of us.

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    The study, which was published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, observed 2,165 pairs of mother-and-child. They were interviewed about their shared reading habits and it was noted that 52% of the mothers read with their children daily at ages 1 and 3. Two years later, these subjects were again interviewed regarding their children's behavior. Based on the obtained results, “shared reading at age 1 was associated with less harsh parenting at age 3 years. Similarly, shared reading at age 3 years was associated with less harsh parenting at age 5 years.”

    Furthermore — and just as important — the kids were reported to have fewer disruptive behaviors.

    “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,” said lead researcher Manuel Jimenez, an assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s Department of Pediatrics, and an attending developmental behavioral pediatrician at Children’s Specialized Hospital. 

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

    So, to recap: shared reading strengthens the bond between parent and child, lessens kid’s disruptive behavior, and helps parents become more gentle and nurturing caregivers? Well, hand us that storybook, pronto!

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