This love month, we look at how connection with our children aids their development and how reading can facilitate that for us.

One thing that all parents have in common globally is their yearning for happy children. The challenge of parenting is how to make this possible for our little ones, especially in the age of digital connection. This is where parent-child relationships play a part and where the need for connection begins.

Our kid's development is highly dependent on the nature of the relationship they have with their caregiver. This relationship serves as the ultimate teacher of who the child is, who others are, and how to navigate the world. According to a Harvard study on child development, "young children experience their world as an environment of relationships, and these relationships affect virtually all aspects of their development."

Serve and return: How connection with our children is established

It is essential that these relationships are stable and reliable, and this is possible when adults understand the importance of "serve and return". Our children feel most loved when we take an interest in what they have to say or accept an invitation for play or engagement. When our children feel loved, they thrive.

A tennis match with one player on the court is no tennis match at all. Likewise, a parent-child relationship with no reciprocation is one-sided and leaves one party feeling unloved, unseen and unheard, tainting the relationship and ultimately hindering the child's healthy development.

The National Scientific Council on the Developing Child states the many benefits of "serve and return" (connection), and these include:

Children are constantly communicating their needs from the day they are born. This communication grows from crying to cooing, behaviour and ultimately, words. These can be understood as "serving" and what happens after they serve determines the overall health of the relationship. If a caregiver fails to respond to this communication, then a child does not feel safe, and cannot grow. Nooksy’s Early Childhood Development Specialist, Katie Modrau, "connection creates safety", and when kids feel safe, they grow.

In 2021, 7-year-old Molly Wright delivered a Ted Talk about the importance of connection, especially in the first five years of a child. She encourages parents to connect, talk to and play with children because this offers kids the confidence they need to navigate the world.

Discover the importance of play.

How do books encourage connection with our children?

It is no easy task to engage a child, and having mediums of engagement can be beneficial to the parent-child relationships. Books are a medium for connection as they help facilitate conversations, including difficult ones. The book could touch on themes that feel relatable to the child or encourage questions that may spark deep conversations. The bonding time spent reading a fun and themed book benefits parent-child relationships.

So, the next time you feel like you can't get through to your little one, read a book. Important to note, however, is that when your child communicates a need or interest, respond with empathy and warmth to let them know they are loved and that you are right here with them.


Get the best from your time reading time with the Nooksy App, including advanced childhood developmental features such as Nooksy Tips.

Explore more topics around childhood development and see how reading develops empathy, or read our collection of books about understanding others for kids.

Also see how reading develops imagination, how reading improves school readiness and how to create a fun family reading routine.

Plus: Have you seen our books about self-esteem for kids?

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