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Early Shared Reading Is Associated with Less Harsh Parenting

Jimenez, Manuel E. MD, MS, FAAP*,†,‡,§,‖; Mendelsohn, Alan L. MD; Lin, Yong PhD**; Shelton, Patricia§; Reichman, Nancy PhD*,‡,††,‡‡

Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics: September 2019 - Volume 40 - Issue 7 - p 530–537
doi: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000687
Original Article
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Objective: Shared reading is believed to enhance parent-child relationships, but the extent to which it reduces harsh parenting is understudied. Associations between early shared reading and subsequent harsh parenting were investigated.

Methods: Data from a national urban birth cohort were used to estimate associations between mother-reported shared reading at ages 1 and 3 years and harsh parenting—based on a composite of psychological and physical aggression subscales of a validated self-report instrument—when the children were at ages 3 and 5 years. The authors used multivariable linear regression and generalized estimating equations to account for repeated observations. Given potential inverse associations between shared reading and child disruptive behaviors, which can trigger harsh parenting, the authors investigated the extent to which children's behavior at age 3 years mediated the association between shared reading at age 1 year and harsh parenting at age 5 years.

Results: This study included 2165 mother-child dyads. Thirty-four percent and 52% of mothers reported daily reading at ages 1 and 3 years. In adjusted models, shared reading at age 1 year was associated with less harsh parenting at age 3 years. Similarly, shared reading at age 3 years was associated with less harsh parenting at age 5 years. These associations remained significant in lagged repeated-measures models. Decreased disruptive behaviors partially mediated the association between shared reading at age 1 year and harsh parenting at age 5 years.

Conclusion: Shared reading predicted less harsh parenting in a national urban sample. These findings suggest that shared reading contributes to an important aspect of the parent-child relationship and that some of the association operates through enhanced child behaviors.

*Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;

Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;

Child Health Institute of New Jersey, New Brunswick, NJ;

§Boggs Center for Developmental Disabilities, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ;

Children's Specialized Hospital, New Brunswick, NJ;

Department of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine/Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, NY;

**Rutgers School of Public Health, New Brunswick, NJ;

††Institute of Health Policy, Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada;

‡‡Princeton University, Princeton, NJ.

Address for reprints: Manuel E. Jimenez, MD, MS, FAAP, Child Health Institute of New Jersey, 89 French St, New Brunswick, NJ 08901; e-mail: jimenema@rwjms.rutgers.edu.

M. E. Jimenez is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation through the Harold Amos Medical Faculty Development Program (Grant 73308) and through its support of the Child Health Institute of New Jersey (Grants 67038 and 74260). The project described was supported in part by Award Numbers R25HD074544, P2CHD058486, and 5R01HD036916 awarded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, or the National Institutes of Health.

Disclosure: The authors declare no conflict of interest.

See the Video Abstract at www.jdbp.org

Received October 12, 2018

Accepted April 02, 2019

Copyright © 2019 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.