The study “Reading Aloud, Play, and Social-Emotional Development,” in the April 2018 issue of Pediatrics, studied how pediatric programs that promote positive parenting activities such as reading out loud and pretend play affect children’s social and emotional development.

Researchers performed a randomized study in which some children received a program called Video Interaction Project beginning at birth and continuing through
age 3 years. At every pediatric visit, program families were video-recorded reading or playing with their children, and then the video was reviewed with a coach who helped parents learn more about their own powerful role in their child’s development.

Researchers found that children in families participating in the program had fewer attention problems and fewer disruptive behaviors such as hyperactivity and aggression when they started school, 1½ years after the program was completed. Families who continued to participate in the program after age 3 had even larger impacts.

Study authors conclude that pediatric programs such as the Video Interaction Project can have a significant impact on children. Study findings are especially significant for parents, as they show that reading aloud and playing together with children can help them have better control of their behavior, which is important for learning when they begin school.

AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS