Music can be a powerful tool for a toddler's endless need to move and groove. Imagine my own epiphany when my husband (not the music therapist in the family!) discovered that our toddler ate faster and stayed in her seat when he played certain music during meal times. GENIUS.
The possibilities are endless, and we'll cover all of that. For now, let's dive into my very favorite music for toddlers!
Before my daughter was born, I was a music therapist in a children's hospital. My job was to go room to room to help kids who were in pain and/or scared, among other things. They often needed to sleep more than anything, so many days, I went from room to room singing babies and kids to sleep.
I'd like to think that the first 6 months of my daughter's life were only blissful and carefree... nope. It was HARD. She was a preemie with sensory issues that she (mostly) outgrew, but the sight of a ceiling fan could send her into an I-WILL-SCREAM-AND-NOTHING-WILL-CALM-ME meltdown that would eventually send me into my own special kind of meltdown.
This is where the "ISO Principle" comes in. "ISO" means "equal, similar, identical" in Greek. The ISO Principle is a music therapy technique where you match the music you're using to the mood and arousal level of whoever you're trying to help.
Kids are wired to test boundaries. It's vital to their development and it helps them build the oh-so-important skill of independent thinking. (Well-behaved women rarely make history, right?) Even though we want our kids to learn to think freely and stand up for themselves, the way that it is expressed in that teeny, tiny 2-5 year-old body can be equally perplexing and exhausting.
We had some visitors stay at our house and they brought their sweet 18-month old. He was sick, missed a nap and was overstimulated after a long day in the sun. Predictably, he had a rough time calming down for a nap. Before long, it escalated to him being completely inconsolable. The method I used is something I've used time and time again... and within minutes, he was fast asleep.
Sometimes when the house is a disaster, tempers are short and the energy is endless... it's time to dance. I believe dancing with your child can build memories, release tension and can even contribute to increasing their confidence.
When the world feels a little heavy, it does the soul a lot of good to hang out with little kids. They tend to wear their heart on their sleeves, nothing stops them from giving a new friend a bear hug and pure joy is accessible just moments after sadness.
I keep finding myself sifting through music for songs to help my 4-year-old feel more relaxed. There's something about this time of year (new school year, new routine) that tends to trigger stress. We've been using a lot of music. I know music is my "thing", but as a parent, I'm so incredibly grateful for it. It can halt escalating emotions and take them in a completely different direction.
The short answer? Sure... if they like it. The long answer?In music therapy research, there are two big themes that come up over and over again...