Renowned Author, Public Speaker and Television Personality, Dr Gabrielle Morrissey writes about the role music plays in bonding with your child. Music can play a key role in our ability to bond with our children. You don’t need to be a “musical family” to use music in your everyday life with your children. You don’t need to be a great singer, or play an instrument, or even be terribly well versed in the range of music available. And you don’t need to be a child developmental psychologist to know that time spent with your children singing and being musical is positive and wonderful family time that they will love and benefit from for years to come.
Singing to our children comes naturally to almost every parent from just about birth. Whether you want to use music to bond and spend time with your kids because you’re passionate about music or because you think it’s good for them, it’s undeniably a great resource as a parent. Music is fantastic for children, and our bonding time with them, in a few core ways.
- Play. Of course time spent with music, especially when children are young, is just plain fun. Song and dance are fundamental ways to play with your children. You can clap, skip, swing, twirl, play make believe and more as you indulge in the world of music together. It’s time spent in developing quality fun because children are not just playing but learning about movement, rhythm, tone and more. Hands down it is just one of the greatest ways we can spend time with our children, for both parent and child. And that’s probably why we naturally do it from the start of their lives.
- Values. Engaging with your children and music is not just fun, though, it’s also a critical pathway to teaching children about your values. You can use music to teach them lessons in a fun way such as getting children to brush their teeth, or pack away their toys (Debbie Doo favorites!) as well as how to treat others and how to learn about and deal with emotions, theirs and others. This is perhaps one of Debbie Doo’s specialties: she turns both the big and little life lessons into fun bonding songs.
- Give your children a head start, literally. Music can increase memory and help brain development, particularly the connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, and linking the emotional and linguistic parts of the brain. The increased brain development is most marked if children are exposed to music before the age of seven.
- Comfort and reassurance. Children thrive on routine, and the familiar. When you develop a structure in your family life that includes music, you create a sense of security for your children. Key songs at various points in the day and week create stability for your children. You may have favorite songs that can decrease a toddler meltdown or upset, or songs for bedtime and mealtimes that let them know, no matter what else is going on, what else may be different and changing, there is music, and you, that are constant. So when they feel unsure, a song can put them at ease, and make them feel safe, and happy again.
- Self expression and self discovery. Music is creative, and as children develop their imaginations it can be a fabulous way for them to explore the world, discover aspects of themselves, and start to express their identity, likes and preferences. This is wonderful self development, and praise about this self expression builds their self esteem and gives parents a chance to praise their children all while positive parenting, sharing love and forming lasting beautiful memories together.