Regular Reading With Your Child Lessens Harsh Parenting: Study

Regular Reading With Your Child Lessens Harsh Parenting: Study

Harsh parenting is a parenting style that is marked by psychological or physical aggression / Photo by: freeograph via 123RF


Harsh parenting is a parenting style that is marked by psychological or physical aggression. Its approach may include yelling at the child, humiliating them, threatening them, or using mean names to call them. It may extend to yanking or smacking the kid into place. However, research has already shown that harsh parenting could lead to adverse mental health outcomes in kids. It could affect their well-being and may lead to increased anxiety and oppositional or disruptive behavior. In short, it can just put the kid on the wrong track of life.

A recent study shows that one way to reduce harsh parenting is by regularly reading to children. If previous research about the benefits of shared reading only mentions about its effects in the child’s emotional, literacy, and language skills, the team of researchers from the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey found out that reading also creates a strong parent and child bond. As a result, it lessens attention problems and hyperactivity in kids.


Positive Parenting Skills

Rutgers’ Department of Pediatrics’ Assistant Professor and lead researcher Manuel Jimenez said that the simple act of routine reading with kids will help strengthen the toddler’s academic success and even beyond school. Jimenez also works as a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at New Jersey’s Children’s Specialized Hospital. Based on their findings, parents reading books to their children on a daily basis will likewise blossom their “positive parenting skills.”

To come up with such a theory, Jimenez and team used the information of 2,165 mother-and-child pairs who are from 20 big cities in the United States. Women in the said records were asked how often they read books to their kids when they were 1 to 3 years old. Two years after the initial study, the mothers were again re-interviewed as to how often they involve in a psychologically or physically aggressive form of discipline. They were also asked about the behavior of their children. The research was further looking for other factors, including financial hardship and parental depression that may have contributed to the toddler’s disruptive behavior and harsh parenting.

Researchers said that parents can achieve a positive parenting approach by means of reading books to their child / Photo by: lightfieldstudios via 123RF


Results of the said study indicate that regular reading with children when they were one year old is linked with reduced harsh parenting by the time the kid reaches three. In the same effect, regular reading with children when they were three years old is linked with reduced hash parenting by the time the kid reaches five years old. Moms who likewise consistently conduct a shared reading with their kids have fewer encounters with disruptive behavior from their kids. 

Other researchers include  Rutgers School of Public Health’s Professor Yong Lin, Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities’ clinical research assistant Patricia Shelton, and other members from the New York University School of Medicine. They concluded that their findings can be used to bolster programs that nurture the socioeconomic, emotional, and academic well-being of the kids.

The Takeaway for Parents Adopting Harsh Parenting

Finding out the most effective way to discipline your child may be a challenge. Once you are too hard or strict on your children, that attitude may impact their future success and education and can backfire in the long run. On the other hand, if your parenting style is too loose or if you act as a best friend to the child, the kids may not respect you or you may take an inferior role over your kids. Yet, a takeaway from a 2017 research published in Wiley Online Library also emphasized that harsh or overly aggressive parenting could only make children more likely to succumb to peer pressure or to drop out from their school. It made clear that these kids may not really have an issue with their education or school itself. Instead, they put their peers first and tend to show negative behaviors because it makes them feel good even for a short period and is not giving much attention on what the long-term effects it may bring them.

The study explained that when humans are put in an event or situation where there are lots of danger, unpredictability, and harshness, we tend to look for quick rewards to feel better about the situation. The harshness makes it hard to focus on long-term effects because we are only trying to survive the day. If this is considered in a bigger picture in terms of parenting, kids will break the rules of their parents, spend more time with their friends, or avoid their homework because they don’t have interest in the long-term rewards. Since children’s needs, such as affection, are not provided by the parents, they search for it in other places. 

Parent-Child Bond Through Reading

On the other hand, parents reading with their child helps develop the child’s literacy skills and brings comfort and closeness between the parent and the child. This was according to Jamaica Reading Association’s project development officer and literacy specialist Beverly Harris. If there is that parent-and-child bond, the child will grow up with confidence and security that their parents love them because they were given the quality time and undivided attention out of a busy schedule.

Parents reading with their child helps develop the child’s literacy skills and brings comfort and closeness between the parent and the child / Photo by: Noriko Cooper via 123RF