We need to encourage our kids to talk back, not punish them for it, experts say
Have you ever punished your kids for talking back?
Or felt like you should at least nip this in the bud, as 'talking back' isn't something kids should be doing to adults?
Well, apparently, you are wrong.
According to a new study published in the Journal of Neuroscience researchers revealed that there are huge benefits to allowing children to discuss things with adults. In fact, MRI images of 40 children between the ages of four and six showed greater development of white matter linking Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area – the parts of the brain responsible for language comprehension and production – in those who had engaged in more back-and-forth conversations with adults.
It is well known that the quantity and quality of that language that children hear early in life predicts their future verbal and cognitive skills.
In fact, in a study conducted back in the 1990s, researchers found that by the time children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds reach school age they are exposed to on average 30 million more words than children growing up in lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The findings became known in the medical community as the “word gap.”
Since then, much of the focus of early childhood language development has been on getting children to hear a greater number of words. However, some believe that the word gap is an overly simplistic approach to language development, and in this study, Dr. Rachel Romeo, postdoctoral research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the Harvard study, set out to examine more about the quality of speech children are exposed to as opposed to just quantity.
“Our findings show that the information highways between the language regions of the brain were stronger in children who took turns talking with their parents, and the greater connectivity held true independent of socioeconomic status,” said Romeo explains in an interview with ABC news.
The researchers recorded the children and their parents for two days to capture the number of different words children heard, the number of words they spoke, and the number of turns they took in back-and-forth conversations with their caregivers. The team then used an MRI to take images of the children’s brains, and performed common office tests to measure the children’s verbal and cognitive abilities.
What they found? The children who took more turns in back-and-forth conversation with their parents had stronger connections between the brain regions responsible for comprehension and production of speech, and also scored higher on verbal skills tests, the study found.