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Mum’s The Word

July 30th, 2015 | By: Nancy Ripton
How you speak to your baby can make her more empathetic later in life.
Mum’s The Word

How you talk to your young child can have a significant impact on how he will communicate with people later in life. A new study out of the the University of York found that mother’s who verbally tune-in to her child’s thoughts and feelings at a young age, help their child learn to empathize with other people later in life.

Researchers observed 40 mothers with their babies at ages 10, 12, 16 and 20 months of age. They kept a record of parental language during 10-minute play periods and logged every time the mother made mind-related comments. For example, if their child was having difficulty with a task the mother would verbally acknowledge that their child was frustrated.

Researchers then revisited the mothers once the children reached five and six years of age and assessed the child’s socio-cognitive ability in order to see what level the child was able to relate to others and understand a person’s thoughts. The results showed a strong, positive correlation between mind-related comments early in life and a child’s ability to understand the thoughts of other people.

It appears that a mother’s ability to tune-in to her baby’s thoughts and feelings early on helps the child learn to empathize with people later in life.