The next time you see your kids chatting to themselves, don't worry - for a new study has shown that children who talk to themselves do better on motor tasks.
The study led by Adam Winsler, an associate professor of psychology at George Mason University showed that preschoolers perform better while doing their tasks when they talk to themselves out loud (either spontaneously or when told to do so by an adult) than when they are silent.
"Young children often talk to themselves as they go about their daily activities, and parents and teachers shouldn't think of this as weird or bad," said Winsler.
"On the contrary, they should listen to the private speech of kids. It's a fantastic window into the minds of children," he added.
During the study 78 percent of the children performed either the same or better on the performance task when speaking to themselves than when they were silent.
Private speech helps the children to improve their communication skills with the outside world.
"This is when language comes inside. As these two communication processes merge, children use private speech in the transition period. It's a critical period for children, and defines us as human beings," Winsler added.
Winsler also conducted the study in children with autism. The findings revealed that high-functioning autistic children talk to themselves often and in the same ways that non-autistic children do. Talking aloud also improved their performance on tasks.
"Children with autism have problems with their external social speech, so psychologists assumed that their private speech would also be impaired," he said.
"But this study shows that it is not the case-that autistic children use their private speech very effectively as a tool to help them with tasks," he added.
The study titled 'Should I let them talk?': Private speech and task performance among preschool children with and without behaviour problems' is published in Early Childhood Research Quarterly.