For many parents, there’s this weird taboo about talking too much around the kids. However, despite fears that your toddler might start picking up on you talking about financial issues, there’s a quality opportunity for parents to help their kids to keep on developing as kids.
Indeed, a University of York study in April 2019 found that parents who talk a lot around their kids are going to help improve the cognitive skills of their children quite significantly.
This is a huge study, and one of the most important of its kind. We often get chastised for talking too much around a child – but it’s apparently brilliant for them. Having all of that talking and those adult phrases (as in high-level language, not swearing!) around them all day is a brilliant way to boost their skills.
The study found that children who are surrounded by a high level of speech tend to benefit from improved non-verbal performance. They tend to be better at everything from problem-solving to awareness of shapes through to basic numeracy.
In short, if you want your kids to make the most of their early development, don’t be afraid to talk around them. The study is one of the most interesting of its kind, with lead author Katrina d’Apice, a PhD student from the University of York’s Department of Education saying:
“Using the audio recorders allowed us to study real-life interactions between young children and their families in an unobtrusive way within the home environment rather than a lab setting.
“We found that the quantity of adult spoken words that children hear is positively associated with their cognitive ability.
However, further research is needed to explore the reasons behind this link — it could be that greater exposure to language provides more learning opportunities for children, but it could also be the case that more intelligent children evoke more words from adults in their environment.”
Talk more, develop more
It’s a simple equation, then, and something that everyone should be looking at very closely. With so much work done in making sure that we can help our next generation to be raised better than the last, such statements are essential to raising well-balanced, happy, confident children.
Alongside showing your children plenty of responsiveness and positivity as well as encouragement to self-explore, talking a lot around children is brilliant for their personal development.
Indeed, as Professor Sophie von Stumm of the Department of Education at the University of York, and senior author of the study, said: “This study is the largest naturalistic observation of early life home environments to date.
“We found that the quantity of adult spoken words that children were exposed to varied greatly within families. Some kids heard twice as many words on one day as they did on the next.
“The study highlights the importance of treating early life experiences as dynamic and changeable rather than static entities — approaching research in this way will help us to understand the interplay between environmental experiences and children’s differences in development.”
Without a doubt, then, this could be one of the most important and significant changes in parenting in a generation. Talk more, encourage more, show more; there can only be positives from showering our children in positive, proactive conversation.