When I think back to my daughter's first few years, I am almost immediately taken back to the quiet nights when I rocked her to sleep while singing her special lullaby.
We had some weekend visitors stay at our house not too long ago 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. Within minutes, he was fast asleep. The method I used is something I've used time and time again with music therapy clients and my own daughter.
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.
Imagine for a moment... it's Saturday morning. The house is dark and quiet and you've miraculously been able to sleep in until 9am.
(I'll let you stay in that dreamland for a moment.)
It's time to wake up. Music comes on and gently wakes you. It starts very quiet-- so quiet you can barely hear it-- and it gradually gets louder, coaxing you awake. It's music you love. What's your mood?
Now, imagine for a moment... the same scenario. It's Saturday morning in a dark, quiet house and you're blissfully able to sleep until 9am.
It's time to wake up. Then, as if there's a speaker right by your ear, IMMEDIATELY LOUD heavy metal music plays and shocks you out of bed. What's your mood now?
I have always loved lullabies. They're my absolute favorite to sing, write and play. I recommend picking one special lullaby to sing to your child over and over again throughout their childhood (recordings are okay, too, but live singing from a parent is the very best, according to music therapy research). For my daughter, that lullaby was a version of "Stay Awake" from Mary Poppins. My daughter was so used to that song as a "cue" for sleep that to this day, she yawns right when I sing the first few notes.