I used to be terrified of people (talking on the phone, answering the door, talking with relatives and neighbors). Pit in the stomach, tight throat, sweaty palms. I hated it with my whole being and just wanted to disappear. Then, I found band class. At first, I fell in love with the fact that no one had to talk! Your mouth was occupied with blowing into the instrument (score!). Then, I fell in love with the music, and how all of these awkward, gangly middle schoolers could come together and make something beautiful, to be part of something bigger than us. With emphasis on the whole.
For many people, music provides a vital release of emotions and pent up energy. It can be soothing and help improve your self-confidence. Music encourages us to slow down and be in the present moment more. It’s also strongly tied to memory, literacy skills and can boost brain function. Additionally, it has the power to move you to tears or to jump for joy. Most importantly, music helps us connect to something bigger than ourselves, to feel heard and understood and allowed to just be.
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I believe in harnessing the powers of music to connect and communicate with our kids. I’m a huge advocate for using music as part of your positive parenting approach.
And before you say, “Ok, but I’m just not musical” or “This won’t work for me because I can’t sing,” wait! Everyone, everyone has an inner musician just waiting to come out and play. Sure, maybe as a kid you were told that you “can’t sing” and you took on that false belief as if it were the truth. I see you. I’m so sorry. And, it’s just not true!
Music is a skill just like any other, and can be improved with some intentional practice.
If you believe, as I do, in music’s ability to raise kind and sensitive humans, first believe in yourself. Know that there is no greater parent for your child than you. Yes, even if you “can’t sing.” What profound life lessons you can teach your kid through your own musical journey of trying something new, being a beginner, practicing, improving, perseverance, being a lifelong learner, plus busting the myth of “perfection” even in adulthood. You can learn right along with your child. Talk about a fantastic bonding experience.
Here are 5 easy ways to start incorporating more music (& joy) into your family life, starting today.
1. Listen to Music You Like
Share your favorite music with your child. Belt out the words no matter how out of tune you think you sound. Your child doesn’t actually know what’s “in tune” or not, they only care about your energy and joy. If you’re enjoying yourself, then your child will, too. Pretend you’re a rockstar on a stage if that helps, sing loud and proud!
2. Draw to Music
Put on some classical or instrumental music and draw what the music makes you feel. No singing required. Draw for a few minutes. Be intentional about your colors, shapes, designs, etc. Share what you drew and why at the end.
3. Start a Family Dance Party
Crank up the party music and get silly! Wiggle, shake, dance, jump, bounce, slide. Take turns copying each other’s dance moves. This is also a great way to reset the energy of the day, too. The sillier the better. Play Follow-The-Leader around the house.
4. Play Instruments Together
Grab a drum and a maraca and play, play, play. Take turns playing rhythmic patterns. Copy each other’s rhythms. Play a steady beat (pulse) while you sing a favorite nursery song or recite a rhyme. Change the speed. Change the volume.
5. Choose One Specific Song
Got tantrums? (washing hands, brushing teeth, bath time, diaper changes, bedtime…) Choose one specific song that you ONLY listen to during that time to make it extra special, plus something to look forward to.
Keep these tips handy as you lead from the heart in your peaceful parenting practice. Help your child navigate this great, big world with ease, compassion and confidence.