by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies
The answer to the question raised by Laura Goertzel in her article on whether quiet time can help kids make better decisions is a resounding YES. The article quotes Professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang who writes about the importance of quiet in a child’s development. Goertzel then suggests ways parents can create quiet spaces and silent opportunities for their children.
Many of the readers of my posts know about my research and writings on the adverse impacts of noise on health. However, few may be aware of my book “Top of the Class” (1996), which looked at the lives of academic high achievers, people who excelled at college and after they graduated from college. Many of the people interviewed for this book were now older. While I wanted to know about how they fared professionally and personally after graduating college, I also asked about them about their childhoods.
Many of these academic high achievers spoke of quiet in their homes—quiet times to read, quiet times to do homework, and quiet times to think. They also noted that televisions and stereos were not blasting in the background of their homes and voices were more moderate when they were growing up. This was especially true when they shared meals with their parents and siblings. The conversations at these meals were a give-and-take between children and parents which, undoubtedly, served to strengthen the family unit.
I believe the quiet these academic achievers experienced in their homes contributed to their success in school. Since I found that their lives after school were, according to them, most satisfactory, the quiet in their childhoods can be viewed to having contributed to this satisfaction as well.
My research on these older academic high achievers was published over 25 years ago, and I do not know if the academic achievers in more recent times have similarly experienced quiet in their homes. This question is especially true today when so many people are constantly tuned in electronically. Yet, I believe, as do Goertzel and Immordino-Yang, that quiet in a young person’s life will enhance mental and physical development.
Advice to parents – bring some quiet into your children’s lives!