7 Reasons Why Music at Home Helps Parents (and Kids!)
Using music at home is more important than most parents realize. Here are 7 reasons why parents should use music with their children.
Parent-child interactions are directly related to children’s language, cognitive, and social-communicative development. The way parents respond to their child’s needs and signals with sensitivity, warmth, and acceptance directly affect’s their child’s feelings of trust and security. Using music at home influences all of these areas and is a natural way to connect with your child. Here are 7 reasons that parents should use music with their children:
1. Music provides natural opportunities for meaningful interaction
Sometimes it’s hard to know how to speak you’re child’s language. How do you interact with a little one who can’t carry on a conversation and who hardly focuses on one toy at a time? I feel that music is one of the most natural ways to learn how to interact with your child in the early years. You sing to your baby and see her smile, you turn on music with your toddler and see him dance his little heart out, or you play instruments with your preschooler and see the light in her eyes while she explores the sounds. The type of interaction that can happen with music is very unique and exponentially beneficial for both parent and child. Sometimes all it takes is learning how to do it.
2. Music strengthens parent-child intimacy
Your children want to play with you. They want to bond with you and enjoy time together. When you turn on a favorite song and dance with your child, you will begin to develop a connection that is unlike any other. Last weekend I was in the kitchen when I heard my husband crank up “Let it Go” and the “Star Wars Theme Song” in the other room with the kids. They were all singing at the top of their lungs, and when I went in the room I saw them busting out some pretty awesome dance moves. My 2 year old girl was Elsa creating her ice castle, and my 4 year old boy was Luke Skywalker fighting the storm troopers with his Dad (ironic, I know). All while my 7 month old sat and watched with an open mouth and wide-eyed wonder. While my kids may not remember that particular moment for the rest of their lives, the feeling of intimacy that developed in that moment will stay with them and continue to have a positive impact throughout their lives.
3. Using music at home reduces irritability
I’m a Mom. I totally get the irritability factor, especially when you’re running off of little to no sleep, you have a baby who won’t stop crying, a toddler who spills their cereal every morning, and a preschooler who insists on jumping off of everything in sight. There are some moments when all I want is to shut out the world for a moment and feel some peace and calm.
Sometimes all it takes to turn my mood around is to crank up the tunes. I may choose something soothing to change the mood in my home and try to calm my children. Or I may choose some fun and upbeat songs that I know my kids love and that will enable us to connect in a positive, non-irritable way. I have playlists devoted to each of my children (and myself!) and will often turn on those favorites when they are having an especially hard time. Once they are able to focus on something positive and motivating like the music, I’m able to take a breath of fresh air, and the general irritability in the home decreases.
Music gives us something positive to focus on, and that increased positivity tends to decrease the negative emotions that give rise so easily in a home full of little ones!
4. Using music increases confidence in parenting
Because music is a natural way for children to interact, they will respond positively to musical engagement, and the parent who uses music at home will experience the positive results. If you see that your baby is crying but responds when you sing a familiar song, you will grow in confidence. If you take time to play and sing with your child and feel the bond begin to form, you will grow in confidence. Or when you see your baby light up while you sing to them in the bath about washing their hair, face, and ears, you will grow in confidence. Music is one of the most powerful tools in connecting with children, and your use of it will make you feel like a rock star of a parent (pun intended).
5. Using music increases sensitivity toward your children
When a parent uses particular songs to reflect or influence their child’s mood or emotions, it increases their sensitivity and shows their child that they are being heard. This can be as simple as singing a “sleep song” before naps or bed time (I love to use “Twinkle Twinkle”), or it might be turning on upbeat and engaging music when you see your child has high energy they don’t know what to do with (I do this all the time!). You can even have a song you sing when your child is sad or gets hurt. It doesn’t need to be the same song every time and can change in the moment based on the child’s request, but the way you sing it can reflect your child’s emotion. When you reflect these emotions through music, it not only helps your child learn to express themselves more fully, but can help them move through difficult or heightened emotions to a more centered state. And best of all, it helps you to be more sensitive to their needs and become a better parent.
6. Using music enhances engagement with children
When you use music intentionally with your child, you will naturally become more engaged with them. Instead of focusing on accomplishing tasks around the house, getting lost on social media on your phone, or wanting to get just one more thing done for work, you will find yourself more able to focus on what is most important. Music requires you to utilize your full attention, it’s fun, and it will benefit you and your child. Bounce your baby on your knee while you sing to him. Sit with your toddler and explore the sounds of different instruments. March around the room with your preschooler while you sing “The Ants Go Marching”. Music provides a fun and motivating excuse to stop and play, and can thereby enhance your level of engagement with your child. You will feel the results!
7. Using music with your children can improve your mental health
We all use music for our own mental health in some way. We may turn on a certain song when we feel sad, excited, lonely, or bored, and we know that it has an impact on our mood and emotions, and really our overall mental health. Have you considered that using music with your child also has an impact on your mental health? You can share your favorite songs with your children, or you can let your children share their favorite songs with you. Taking time to stop and engage musically with your child can bring about positive changes in your brain and help you feel more fulfilled, confident, and content as a parent. Parents need to take care of themselves, and sometimes they are surprised to learn that self care may come from more meaningful engagement with their children.
It is my hope that you will find more joy and fulfillment at home as you use music with your children. There are so many benefits, and they are waiting for you!