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The easiest way to make sure your newborn is a people person
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A new study says that a mother's language can make children better at understanding people and their emotions later in life. - photo by Herb Scribner
Want your child to understand people? Talk to him or her.

A new study published this week from the University of York in the United Kingdom found that a mothers language can help children develop better social skills later in life, according to Science Daily. The study said that children whose mothers understood their emotions and thoughts were more likely to develop the same skill.

"These findings show how a mother's ability to tune-in to her baby's thoughts and feelings early on helps her child to learn to empathize with the mental lives of other people, Dr. Elizabeth Kirk said, according to Science Daily.

To find this, the researchers observed 40 mothers and their babies when they were 10, 12, 16 and 20 months old, Science Daily reported. The researchers kept a record of the language the mother and children shared for 10-minute periods and marked every time the mother made a mind-related comment (where they addressed a childs emotional behavior, like if they were frustrated).

The researchers revisited some of these parents and children when the youngsters were 5 and 6 years old, and found that children whose mothers made more of those mind-related comments were more likely to understand other peoples emotions and feelings when they were older, according to Science Daily.

"These results are significant as they demonstrate the critical role of conversational interaction between mothers and their children in infancy, Kirk told Science Daily.

This isnt the first time that research has encouraged conversation between parents and their children to help youngsters develop language and social skills, though. In fact, the benefits of talking to your baby begin before he or she is even born.

As I wrote about in June, a study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found babies learn language skills when their parents talk to them while theyre in the womb because certain parts of a babys brain especially where language and hearing skills develop grow quicker when they hear their mother speak to them from outside the womb. By the time those babies are born, they have a basic understanding of sounds and language.

It's never too early to start reading and talking to your baby, Dr. Rebekka Levis, an assistant professor at New York Medical College, told The Journal News. "We definitely know that babies can hear their mothers and recognize their voice while in utero."

Experts also advise new parents to have conversations with their babies through language that they can understand, which I wrote about in May. Experts told PBS that parents should speak in parentese commonly known as baby talk because babies enjoy the sounds it creates, which makes them more likely to understand language as they grow, PBS reported.

The sing-song speech, often accompanied by exaggerated facial expressions, seems to be used by almost everyone who talks to a baby, according to PBS. Parentese is not merely an English-speaking practice. Its spoken around the world, because we all love to do it mothers, fathers, grandparents, friends, older siblings, even preschoolers. And whats more, babies seem to like it too.

But baby talk isnt just done by talking to your child with a lot of vowels and childish sounds. Smiling and paying attention to your baby will also help your newborn pick up social and language cues, according to WebMD.

Parents can also have a conversation with their babies by imitating them and responding to their next steps and movements, WebMD reported. This will help babies understand emotions and how they affect others.

Right from the start, baby talk should be a two-way street, WebMD reported. By imitating your baby, you'll send an important message: What he is feeling and trying to communicate matters to you.
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