Harvard, MIT Study: Do This 1 Thing To Raise Healthy, Wealthy Kids

Harvard, MIT Study: Do This 1 Thing To Raise Healthy, Wealthy Kids

Want to raise happier, more successful children? Harvard, MIT study says doing this one thing at age 4 could make your kids successful. Read more...

As a parent, you know just what it means to raise a child. You also know how parenting can often seem as competitive as the Olympic Games. We all want our children to be the best, the most successful, even though the world discourages competitive parenting. As a parent, you want to make your kids successful, if you can help it.

Science and countless research studies have contributed greatly to making parenting easier. The evidence is in the number of effective strategies on positive parenting. Last year however, a group of researchers at MIT, Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania came together. They discovered that one of the best things a parent can do for their children is to have regular back-and-forth conversations with them.

Harvard, MIT Study: Do This 1 Thing To Raise Healthy, Wealthy Kids

The study recommends that you begin these conversations at an early age. It goes on to suggest that doing this typically between ages 4 and 6 will help develop and improve your child's communication skills. It's not a secret that communication is a most important skill to have, as it greatly contributes to a person's success in life. This is why early mastery of communication will have an impact on your child's success in later years. Other studies also support the notion that children who possess strong communication skills are likely to have healthier relationships, longer marriages, high self esteem, and all round life satisfaction.

There's a study from Harvard even suggested that skilled communicators typically turn out to be great negotiators. In turn, they “recognize the importance of expanding the pie of value for all parties at the table. In the process, they claim more money for themselves.”

The Beauty Of Two Way Conversations

Harvard, MIT Study: Do This 1 Thing To Raise Healthy, Wealthy Kids

For the study, researchers evaluated 36 children using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to identify the differences in how the brain responds to different conversational styles. They found that the Broca’s area was much more active in children who engaged in more two way conversations. The Broca area is a region of the brain that focuses on speech production and language processing. Children who had more activity in that region of the brain scored higher in tests of language, grammar and verbal reasoning skills.

“The really novel thing about our paper is that it provides the first evidence that family conversation at home is associated with brain development in children,” John Gabrieli, the senior author of the study, told MIT News. “It’s almost magical how parental conversation appears to influence the biological growth of the brain.”

Money And The 30 Million Word Gap

Harvard, MIT Study: Do This 1 Thing To Raise Healthy, Wealthy Kids

14 years ago in 1995, a landmark study found that children from higher-income families seemed better in language and communication abilities. Researchers believed it was because those children were exposed to about 30 million more words during their first years of life. This is compared to children of lower-income families.

But findings from this recent study suggest that the “30 million word gap” isn’t so special after all.

“The conversational turn-taking seems like the thing that makes a difference, regardless of socioeconomic status,” Gabrielli said. “Such turn-taking occurs more often in families from a higher socioeconomic status. But children coming from families with lesser income or parental education showed the same benefits from conversational turn-taking.”


The point isn’t to have deep philosophical conversations with your children. But it is to instead carry out conversations that require back-and-forth dialogue.

It’s not difficult to make that leap, and they’ll benefit in significant ways in the long run; interactive conversations help improve communication skills as a whole, and that’s a necessity for success in any future career. When it comes to your child’s success, maybe talk isn’t so cheap after all.

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