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In this age of parenting, some of us may spend a lot of time thinking, analyzing, and investing much of our emotional and mental energy worrying about how we can be better at our roles. We pour through blogs and books, discuss different ways of parenting, and adopt any number of special methods to be the best we can be. Yet sometimes, it’s the tried and true, age-old habits that stick and truly make a difference.

The sun has gone down and bellies are full from a well-made meal. Homework was a hassle, but completed. Teeth are brushed and it is bedtime. In those moments between stirring and slumber, the voice of a mother or father can be heard, patiently telling a story. Interrupted only by the occasional inquisitive remark from a sleepy child, until the only sound that fills the pauses is the turn of a page.

“Read me a story.” 

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It is a simple act and considered a “Keystone Habit.”

A Keystone Habit is a single habit that causes a chain reaction of more habits. Focusing on one good habit is more doable than trying to achieve 10. If you choose a powerful one, you will notice that other habits may naturally develop. One important example is “8 hours of sleep per night” leads to better diet choices, more energy to be active, and even a more positive mindset.

Reading aloud to your child is a Keystone Habit that will enrich your lives in so many ways. If your night-time scenario is filled with television or other screen-based activities, sacrificing 15 minutes of digital entertainment to build in a habit that will level-up your child’s overall development.

Increased vocabulary and better communication:

Hearing and understanding a wider variety of words will make your child better-prepared to communicate effectively in school, socially, and also to you.

…..the words he already knows determine how much of what the teacher says will be understood. And since most instruction for the first four years of school is oral, the child who has the largest vocabulary will understand the most, while the child with the smallest vocabulary will grasp the least.” – The Read-Aloud Handbook

Intelligence and reading ability:

If your child is not reading or being read to, it will strongly affect their capacity to learn. When kids struggle with reading, they are limited in school, and less likely to learn about the world on their own.

Behavior and focus:

Encourage your child to wind down at the end of the day and dedicate time to concentration and a calm activity, and they will learn to better maneuver their energy levels, practice shifting focus, and harbor less aggressive tendencies.

Stronger bond and empathy:

This commitment of only a few minutes per day may not seem like much, but will mean the world to your child. You are creating a safe bubble of comfort and love that will make them feel special, and stay in their memories always. In this receptive head space, they are open to the lessons and morals of the stories, cultivating empathy and emotional awareness as they experience the spectrum of feelings through the characters and their trials.

Convinced yet?

Perhaps you are thinking, “this seems great and all but…. <fill in the blank>.”

Your child may be extremely active, your life may be very busy, and your lifestyle may be different, but it is possible to develop this Keystone Habit.

Here are some tips for integrating this parenting tradition into your unconventional life:

  • Read aloud near the end of dinner, or enjoy some reading during dessert.
  • Read aloud during bath-time.
  • Make the books visible – give them their own special spot near the bed to remind you both of reading time.
  • Make weekly or bi-weekly visits to the library to engage them in the process and invoke excitement for new books.
  • Track reading days on a visual calender, with a reward or activity at a certain amount of pages, books, or nights.
  • Engage the whole family –
    • Take turns reading pages or sections of a book
    • Discuss current books being read in school
    • Subscribe to science, nature, or other magazines of interest and read/discuss interesting articles.
  • Don’t limit yourself – Your child may end up enjoying poetry over stories, chapters instead of pictures, or fiction rather than non-fiction.
  • Try Audiobooks – It’s a great way to integrate reading during drives or chores, and may be a better option for older kids.

If raising a smarter and happier child is what you want to create, don’t let excuses get in your way. Make reading a priority, and turn the page to a healthier and more enriched life as a parent.

Thank you for visiting my site. Let’s connect. I’d love to hear your story. Want more? Check out my latest book. Busting the Boys Will Be Boys Myth: A Guide to Raising Conscious and Confident Men in Today’s World

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