Family & Parenting

Reading And Playing With Young Kids Can Impact Their Behavior Years Later

The way you play with your 1-year-old impacts the way he behaves at 4.

As Dr. Seuss famously wrote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Now a new study shows that reading to our kids does more than just educate, it can actually help to encourage attention and reduce aggression and hyperactivity for years to come.

The study, which was published in April 2018 edition of Pediatrics, built on to research performed with the help of nearly 700 low-income families with kids aged 0-3 in New York. Some of the families were invited to participate in the Video Interaction Project, in which parents were filmed reading to and playing with their children for about five minutes. They later watched the videos alongside parenting experts “to identify and reinforce responsive interactions and promote self-reflection.”

Researchers also provided age-specific pamphlets that contained instructions for positive parenting and opportunities for parents to set goals and record observations.


Along the way, the researchers discovered something quite amazing: At age 3, the children who had participated in the Video Interaction Project showed a reduction in hyperactivity, aggression and difficulty with attention, as compared to the control group that had not received the intervention.

The latest study took this research a step further. Researchers were interested to know if these effects would last past the age of 3, and they were pleased to discover that they did. In following up with these families 18 months into the future, the study authors found that the children who participated in the Video Interaction Project continued to exhibit better behavior than children who did not.


What This Means For Parents Everywhere

Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, an associate professor of pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine (and principal investigator of this study), says: “The key take-home message to me is that when parents read and play with their children when their children are very young — we’re talking about birth to 3 year olds — it has really large impacts on their children’s behavior. All families need to know when they read, when they play with their children, they’re helping them learn to control their own behavior.”

Isn’t it amazing to know that taking a few minutes to read or play with youmg kids can have such a positive impact on their behavior years into the future?