Wednesday, July 13th, 2011
Remember the expression “talk is cheap”? Well, there’s a new twist to that — talking to your child doesn’t cost anything, yet it’s one of the most powerful ways to stimulate their cognitive development.
I’ve been thinking about this since my last post, which focused on the benefits of having a “language-based” bedtime routine for toddlers. What was interesting is that toddlers who had a bedtime routine that featured any type of parental talk — examples included telling a story, reading a book, singing, praying — not only had longer sleep two years later, but also more advanced receptive vocabulary.
So the simple act of having daily devoted time for parent-child interaction achieved what many parents look for in technology — promotion of cognitive development.
I make this point to amplify the idea that in this age of ever expanding electronic opportunities for children of all ages (even babies), there is no substitute for uninterrupted and natural interaction between a parent and child. To be clear, I’m not opposed to technology, and in fact endorse including it as part of a toddler’s everyday life (click here to see my previous thoughts on this topic). It’s just that I’d like to encourage you to enjoy some downtime with your kid (without any devices on) and do what comes naturally — talk, laugh, sing, read, whatever. These are the things you will remember when your child is older. And as an added bonus, you’ll also be doing good things for your child’s brain.