Although reading to your child beginning at a young age is always encouraged, it may be especially beneficial for children with attention deficit disorder (ADD). According to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, reading to your children from birth through the age of 5 and engaging in pretend play can reduce the likeliness of behavior problems occurring once they enroll in school.
And this is pretty huge news given that ADD is one of the most commonly diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders that affects at least 5 percent of American kids, according to the American Psychiatric Association. And while the rate of kids diagnosed with ADD steadily increased between 2011 and 2015, recently the trend has seen a change. The amount of kids getting diagnosed with ADHD/ADD has decreased between 2011 and 2016, dropping from 6.4 million to 6.1 million kids over the span of five years. With that being said, it's important to take into account that the CDC switched from collecting data via phone to a mail-in system between 2015 and 2016, which makes it more difficult to accurately compare the statistics.
The study is also a game changer for parents who are looking for ways to help their children without solely relying on medication. The researchers studied children under 3 years old while coaching their parents on reading and playing techniques such as pointing out pictures and asking questions during storytime. They followed up with the families once the study was complete and made some interesting observations.
"[The children were] better able to sit still. Better able to get along with friends or peers and teachers," explained Dr. Alan Mendelsohn, an author of the study and a developmental-behavioral pediatrician at NYU Langone Health in an interview with ABC News.
Researchers concluded that making a concrete effort to read with your kids and engage with pretend play enhances social-emotional development. "When parents provide children with the opportunity to kind of think about their feelings and those characters, it helps them to practice for when they're actually dealing with those feelings when they enter school."