Compassionate Baby Talk

A mothers communicated perspective affects her child

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Though attention deficits and hyperactivity are on the rise in the nation’s youth, research suggests many young children listen rather well.

According to a recent study, mothers who communicate with their children about the emotions and thoughts of other people typically yield more compassionate youth than those who don’t.

"Your baby is listening, promote acceptance."

Lead author on the study, Brad Farrant, Ph.D., of the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research at the University of Western Australia, explains, “Parents who frequently put themselves in someone else's shoes in conversations with their children make it more likely that their children will be able to do the same.”

In order to understand this relationship, Dr. Farrant and his team analyzed 120 children between ages four and six as part of a more extensive and on-going research project.

Investigators interviewed mothers to understand the type of language used in their homes while children completed activities set to measure linguistics and social comprehension.

The study sought to understand the children’s flexibility between perspectives as well as their capacity for individualization.

Findings indicated that mothers who talked more often and in more intricate detail about the feelings and mindsets of others—more specifically, those commenting on the reactions of others in hypothetical situations—wound up with children who did the same.

The language and perspective-forming skills were significantly better in children with these highly communicative mothers, suggesting that a mother’s linguistic style affects that of a child.

In an ever-flattening time of globalization, it becomes increasingly important to understand the differences that constitute this world. According to Dr. Farrant, “Solving the many challenges that the world faces today requires us all to get better at taking the perspective of other people.”

Available through the journal Child Development, this study additionally found that children with troubles learning language also wound up with delayed development in their ability to form perspectives.

Although this is not necessarily attributable to a mother’s linguistics, it highlights the importance of language development on the ability to accept another’s perspective.

So the next time you’re in the mood to talk with someone about the uniqueness of others, turn to your son or daughter; teaching them about individualization can help change their perspective for a lifetime.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 26, 2011
Last Updated:
December 27, 2011