396 Parent’s Language & Children


Research by D’Apice, Katrina, Latham, R. M., & von Stumm, S. (2019).

Written by Shannon Cantalupo, B.S. 

Since early life experiences are crucial for a child’s development, how do the language skills and actions of parents affect children’s language?

British psychologists researched how, in the home, the impact of the quantity and quality of adult speech, is associated with children’s ability to use different words and their cognitive ability. They assessed if positive and critical parenting is associated with children’s behavior.

They evaluated 105 families with 2-4 years old children by giving parents questions, self-report surveys and audio-recorders to record home conversations. They counted the number of words a child heard at home. Additionally, they identified the parents’ cognitive ability and positive and critical parenting behaviors.

Results? The number of words spoken and vocabulary diversity within a child’s home was positively associated with a child’s cognitive ability and language facility. Parents who listened to their child, responded to their child’s needs, and encouraged exploring and expression, had children who showed more on-task and less contrary behaviors. 

Talk to your children about the world, read to, teach them, use adult words—the more they’ll be verbal and likely read, and be curious—crucial to school success!


D’Apice, K., Latham, R. M., & von Stumm, S. (2019). A naturalistic home observational approach to children’s language, cognition, and behavior. Developmental Psychology, 55(7), 1414-1427

Image credit:

Creator:Michael Goldman
Copyright:Photo (c) Michael Goldman



About Author

Adele Hall is the administrative assistant for the School of Psychology in charge of uploading the Psychology Science minutes. The authors of the minutes are listed in the written portion. The Psychology Science Minutes are coordinated by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D., faculty emerita, and reviewed by former Dean Mary Beth Kenkel, faculty emerita.

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