Reading with your toddler provides more surprising benefits than just a special time to bond with your child—it can also affect how you discipline and can improve your child’s behavior. Science says so.

A Rutgers-led study asked 2,165 mothers whose children were between the ages of 1 and 3 years old about how often they read to their child. The parents were re-interviewed two years later, with the additional question of how often they had to implement “physically and/or psychologically aggressive discipline” measures as well as questions about their child’s overall behavior. It is important to note, the study did control factors of financial hardship and parental depression which can influence both disruptive behavior in children and harsher discipline from parents.

Published this year (2019) in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, the study revealed that parents who routinely take part in bedtime stories—or regularly read to their child in general—rely less on harsh discipline methods and their children were less likely to be described as disruptive and/or hyperactive.

While other studies have been done linking the benefits of reading to improved social and academic skills for the children and increased literacy leads to improved behaviors, this is the first to address the influence shared reading time has on parents.


Manuel E. Jimenez, Alan L. Mendelsohn, Yong Lin, Patricia Shelton, Nancy Reichman. Early Shared Reading Is Associated with Less Harsh Parenting. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 2019; 1 DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000687