Parents Who Read to Their Toddlers Are Less Likely to Yell, Study Says

Here’s how your kid’s favorite book can make you a better parent.

By: Amanda Mushro


A smiling middle aged dad reads a silly story to his laughing 2 year old daughter at the park in front of his home.

Photo by: Layland Masuda

Layland Masuda

Reading to your kids helps your little ones develop language, better understand the world around them and can help them be more successful when they start school. But that's not all: reading bedtime stories before they drift off to dreamland can actually make you a calmer parent.

According to the study published in Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, researchers looked at the reading habits of over 2,000 moms with kids ages 1 to 3. What they found was parents who regularly read to their toddlers were less likely to exhibit “harsh parenting,” or “physically and/or psychologically aggressive discipline.”

When it came to their kids' behavior, moms who read frequently with their children reported fewer disruptive behaviors from their kids, which researchers say may explain the low occurrences of “harsh parenting behaviors.”

But the better behavior didn’t stop there. When researchers checked back in with the parents and their kids two years later, the moms who were committed to reading often said they were using even less “harsh parenting” now that their kids were between the ages of 3 and 5.

So, break out the board books and a few of your old favorites, because story time leads to everyone being calmer and happier.

"For parents, the simple routine of reading with your child on a daily basis provides not just academic but emotional benefits that can help bolster the child's success in school and beyond,” said Manuel Jimenez, the study’s lead researcher. “We hope that this can inform interactions between healthcare professionals and parents to encourage activities not just from the perspective of cognitive development but also from the opportunity to really strengthen the parent-child relationship.”

Jimenez says he hopes this study not only gives parents some insight into how often they pick up a book with their kids, but also encourages parents who may be skipping out on any reading time at all.

"Our findings can be applied to programs that help parents and caregivers in underserved areas develop positive parenting skills," Jimenez said.

Raising toddlers is never an easy job, so if snuggling up and reading a few books can keep everyone calmer each day, it’s time to take a trip to the library and stock up on a few new books.

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