Kids who sing, play, story-tell and eat with parents do better

March 4, 2014 at 3:04 PM
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NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- Families who routinely sing, play, story-tell and eat dinner together have children who have higher levels of social-emotional health, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, affiliated with The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, said a child has high social-emotional health when they exhibit the ability to understand emotions, express empathy, demonstrate self-regulation and form positive relationships with peers and adults.

High social-emotional health in early childhood is thought to help a child adapt to the school environment and perform well academically. It is also is a good predictor of children's long-term outcomes.

The study, published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, found children who participated in five family routines were more than twice as likely to have high social-emotional health and for each additional routine that a parent and child do together, there is an almost 50 percent greater likelihood of having high social-emotional health.

The researchers analyzed data from a large, nationally representative sample of preschool-aged children conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.

They examined the parental responses of 8,550 children to questions such as how many times families ate dinner together per week, how often they sang songs, read books and told stories to their children and how often they played together. Results showed that 16.6 percent of the children had high social-emotional health, with approximately 57 percent of those reporting that they participate in three or more family routines.

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