Talking to Your Children is Important for Developmental Milestones

Talking to Your Children is Important for Developmental Milestones

Numerous studies have established the fact that talking to your children is very important with regards to developmental milestones, especially in early formative years.

Developmental milestones are a set of functional skills or age-specific tasks that most children perform within a certain age range. It can involve physical, social, emotional, cognitive and communication skills such as walking, sharing with others, expressing emotions, recognizing familiar sounds and talking.

Betty Hart and Todd Risley published a paper tilted ‘Meaningful Differences in everyday experiences of young American Children’ in the year 1995[1]. In this highly influential and respected study, the authors have established a scientific link between children’s early family experience and their later intellectual growth. They studied families belonging to 3 different types of socio-economic classes: College Educated, Working Class and Poor Families dependent on Government Welfare[2].

Benefits of Talking to your Children

College educated parents tend to talk a lot more to their children and this resulted in some measurable and lifelong advantages for their children. Some of the key findings are:

  1. There is a direct link between parents talking more to their children and faster rate of growth of the child’s vocabulary.
  2. Parents talking more to their children also resulted in Children scoring higher on standardised IQ tests at the age of 3 and later.
  3. A child belonging to College-Educated parents hears 20-30 Million more words and hence can speak a number of words than a child belonging to a poor family, by the age of 3!
  4. ‘Extra talk’ is more useful than ‘Business Talk’. In this context, ‘business talk’ is giving instructions to your child like ‘Don’t do this!’ or ‘Stop Shouting’. Whereas ‘Extra Talk’ is the non-essential general talk which truly enhances the child’s vocabulary and language experience

Subsequent studies have also established the fact that children of highly educated parents tend to engage in a lot more back-and-forth conversation with their parents.

The link between Developmental Milestones and Talking to your Children:

Eighty per cent of the physical brain develops in the first 3 years. The brain is rapidly forming connections known as ‘synapses’ at this stage. Synapses are crucial for learning, thinking and processing information[4]. Research has confirmed that talking more to your child improves and enhances the development of synapses in the brain. Besides this, it has also been shown to improve their emotional well-being, social skills and their ability to build healthy relationships[5]. Therefore, talking more to your child has a positive impact on key developmental milestones like cognitive, language, social and emotional milestones of your child.

In the Indian context, I think we ought to be thankful that we are talkative society. Unknowingly perhaps, this has a lot of positive impact on our children. How early should you start talking to your child? Again, research indicates, earlier the better[6]! On a lighter note, we have all heard the story of how Abhimanyu learnt how to enter ‘Chakravyuh’ while he was still in his mother’s womb!

Key takeaway & Recommendations by Experts:
  1. Talk to your child as possible as much as possible.
  2. Don’t just give instructions, talk about general things as well.
  3. Encourage your child to talk more.
  4. And finally, try and have back-and-forth conversations with your child and not just engage in monologues.
  • Research has confirmed that talking more to your child enhances the development of synapses in the brain
  • ‘ExtraTalk’ has a positive impact on child’s cognitive, language, social and emotional development.
  • Read Experts recommendation on when and why you should start having back-and-forth conversations with your child.
We would love to Hear from You!

Do you engage your child in a back-and-forth, non-essential extra talk? How do you do it?

Please share your thoughts in the commenting section below.

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