How to Calm an Upset Child with Music

Kindermusik | How to Calm an Upset Child with Music

Music is often thought of simply as entertainment, but its power as a conjurer of emotions is undeniable. You probably have that song that transports you right back to your first big breakup, or to a special moment from childhood. Certain music makes you want to get up and dance, while other tunes can make you weepy for no obvious reason. Music’s unique ability to influence our emotions makes it a powerful tool to manage feelings and behavior.

For children, especially, music can help instill calm, promote self-regulation and impart joy. This is great news for parents, who are so intimately familiar with how quickly and unpredictably kids can “lose it.” Finding effective strategies to calm and comfort can be a challenge, and music is a good one to have in your arsenal.

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Baby’s Got the Beat! How to Add Rhythm to Your Daily Routine

Kindermusik University - Teach Music To Babies

Babies are exposed to sounds during pregnancy. At birth, their sense of hearing is completely developed and their brains are programmed to find patterns, making their first year the best time to start exposing babies to music. Kindermusik’s curricula makes it fun and easy to teach music to babies and young children, and has the best educational activities for babies.

Steady beat is the foundation of all music (and language)! Babies first experience steady beat in the womb–listening to their mother’s heartbeat and feeling the rhythm of her steps. Kindermusik activities are carefully designed for a child to experience steady beat using multiple senses:

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“Summer Slide”: What You Should Know

child on slide in summer

Water slide, playground slide, Slip N Slide…nothing more perfectly conjures the feeling of summer fun and freedom. The smiles, the giggles, the breeze whipping through wild hair…

But for some parents, summer slide invokes less positive feelings. That’s because the term refers to the dreaded loss of school-based learning that occurs from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next. The phenomenon has led to calls for year-round schooling and intensive summer educational programs to combat the effects of this particular (and decidedly less delightful) slide.

But before we get all hot and bothered, let’s take a look at the facts.

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More Recess, Even More Focus

recess play

Things are happening at Eagle Mountain Elementary School in Forthworth, Texas. They are happening on the playground and in the classrooms, and believe it or not, they are connected. Recently, the school tripled the amount of recess time the students received and the results have been amazing. We have talked about the importance of play on this blog in the past. It looks like Eagle Mountain has discovered play’s importance in practice.

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Book Review – Fidget Wisely

Fidget Wisely

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Fidget Wisely: 10 Ways to Teach Mindfulness Skills to Kids Who Can’t Sit Still by Kirsten May Keach MA, MFT is available at your favorite local bookstore or online in both digital and paperback editions.


 

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A Wonderful Resource…

Does your child fidget? Perhaps he has a hard time sitting in one place. Let’s face it…we’ve all been there to one degree or another. Kirsten May Keach, a licensed family therapist has written the perfect book to help us help our kids develop mindfulness skills into their day to day lives. In the book’s introduction, Keach tells us the genesis of Fidget Wisely:

I had the privilege of working as a therapist in an elementary school. I very quickly had a full caseload of kids. Children were coming to my office frustrated and anxious… The conversations with teachers and administrators went something like this: “He/she is a smart kid with lots of potential but…he just doesn’t listen” or “She won’t sit still”… The conversations with parents began in a similar way… I call this the “He/she is a great kid, but…story.”

The story began to permeate my days. I was my job to identify and dissolve the “but” standing in the way of these kids and their success. What I found was that for the most part, these kids had poor emotional regulation skills. This means that they had difficulty managing their feelings and emotions.

I began to teach kids emotional regulation skills through mindfulness and yoga activities. I integrated the skills I learned living in a Thai Buddhist Monastery into my work as a therapist. I made all these skills kid-friendly.

The kids loved learning mindfulness skills. To my surprise, they caught on like wildfire.

– Kirsten May Keach, Fidget Wisely

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Unsure What Mindfulness Is? Keach Has you Covered

Before diving into the meat of the book, Keach provides the reader with a very clear definition of what mindfulness is. How can we help our kids attain this skill and state of being if we don’t know what it is? Put simply, mindfulness is “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally to the unfolding experience.”

She elaborates in plain terms, of course. You’ll have to buy the book to learn more![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Simple Flow, Easily Digested

Keach has organized her book into very easily followed instructions so that even the mindfulness newbie can take valuable information. She provides several craft activities, with detailed instructions, followed by information on how that craft can be used to help a child center themselves and find that elusive mindfulness. The first craft is a glitter jar, Keach’s version of a snow globe. Here, we create an object with the sole purpose to be touched, shaken, fidgeted with – but with the end game of providing a point of focus for the child.

Each section is formatted in a way that makes executing the craft or activity simple. For crafts, she provides a supply list and clear steps. There is also always a set of rules, that are both practical and humorous.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Book review
Keach’s instructions for a rice box. Remember, don’t eat the rice!

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Physical Activities

Keach provides many wonderful activities throughout the book, from breathing exercises to basic yoga poses for kids. Tips for teachers, information on set-up, and specific instructions are provided. This compact, affordable book provides several poses that are useful for children.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Book Review
Kirsten May Keach, MA MFT

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Fast Read, Helpful Content

We’re all busy people. This resource – a pragmatic and activity driven approach to helping kids develop mindfulness skills is quickly read and packs a great deal in a small package. Take a look, you won’t be disappointed. Oh! And if you are a kindleunlimited™ member, it’s free![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Children’s Book Review: Music Is…

Children's Book Review

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With its bright, colorful cover, Music Is…, wonderful board book, grabs your attention even before you even open it and read it. In many ways, it is a simple book with very few words on each page, but it is a wonderful teaching book – the perfect at-home library complement to the concepts children are learning and the musical styles they are being exposed to in Kindermusik class.

Each two-page spread is a contrast, which is perfect because young children learn best in contrasts. So just like Kindermusik introduces contrasting musical concepts and styles in class, Music Is… introduces contrasting concepts, moods, and styles, one concept per page, making it easy for young children to begin to grasp and for older children and adults to enjoy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is lo-fi and high-fi[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]It teaches concepts such as…

music is quiet
music is LOUD

music is sad
music is happy

music is lo-fi
music is hi-fi
a capella
instrumental
acoustic
electric

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The really lovely thing is that as the book is teaching music concepts, it is also developing a basic music vocabulary for parents and children alike.  As the story unfolds, it is delightful to see children of all ethnic backgrounds making music and also playing with music.  There are instruments and music makers on every page.

It’s an entertaining read-aloud for younger children and an engaging conversation starter for older children.  For the sake of the non-musical adult, there’s even a basic glossary of musical terms on the very last page.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music is one music is many[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The simple story line is enhanced by whimsical and interesting illustrations that explain what music is and explore how music makes us feel. It’s the kind of fun, feel-good story book you don’t mind reading over and over again…which is a good thing since it’s sure to become a family favorite![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]At the end, the author brings it all together in this profoundly beautiful conclusion:

music is old
music is new
music is for everyone
music is for you

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Music Is… by author Brandon Stosuy and illustrator Amy Martin can be found at your favorite local book seller or online in both physical and digital formats.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text]Shared by Theresa Case whose award-winning Kindermusik program at Piano Central Studios in Greenville, SC, has been a happy advocate for the benefits of music for over 20 years now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Everyone Can Sing

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A recent article, written by Northwestern music education professor, Steven M. Demorest, over at The Conversation, an “independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public,” explored the idea of musical talent.

The most telling fact, one that I have been aware of for most of my career as a choral conductor, is that adults who consider themselves unmusical were often told that they couldn’t sing as children. Prof. Demorest relates part of the story of Sing, an Oscar-winning short film from Hungary about a girl named Zsófi.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Sing tells the story of young Zsófi, who joins a renowned children’s choir at her elementary school where “everyone is welcome.”

Soon after joining, Zsófi is told by her teacher Erika not to sing, but only mouth the words. On the face of it, she accepts her teacher’s request stoically. But later in the movie, her anguish and pain become obvious, when she reluctantly tells her best friend what happened.

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Dr. Steven Demorest
Dr. Steven Demorest

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Our culture has become obsessed with the idea of “talent.” The concept that making music is reserved for the revered few is promoted by shows like America’s Got Talent and The Voice. I don’t want to take away from the entertainment value of these shows – the people that perform on them are certainly gifted. But the reality is this: every child is born a natural musician. They sing and dance and make music from the very beginning. They are surrounded by music – so – they respond by mimicking what they hear. If this inherent ability is fostered the benefits are life-changing.[/vc_column_text][blockquote cite=”Dr. Steven Demorest, Northwestern University”]”…indeed every child has musical ability that can be developed into a satisfying and lifelong relationship with music.”[/blockquote][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Negative feedback can come from many different places, especially peers. Sadly, it can also come from music educators and even parents. This has a lasting effect on self-esteem and the desire to make music, especially singing. Singing is an intensely personal activity. It’s just you – no external instrument. You can’t put the instrument down and ignore it. You carry it with you. When the singing voice is disparaged, it is very difficult to not allowed that disparagement have an impact on the entire self.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

Combating the “Talent Mindset” with the “Growth Mindset”

Carol Dweck, psychologist, author, and professor, researches why and how people succeed. Here’s the main point of “Growth Mindset”:

Students who view their success as a result of hard work will persevere through challenges, while students who believe their success lies with some innate ability – like “talent” – are more likely to give up.

Watch Dr. Dweck’s TEDTalk below.[/vc_column_text][vc_video link=”https://vimeo.com/226460812″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]sing[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Encourage, Encourage, Encourage

So what can we do to get kids on board the train destined for a lifelong connection with music? The most important thing we can do is getting them started early. This is one of the reasons Kindermusik classes are open to newborn infants. To be surrounded by music from birth helps set the tone for that lifelong connection. As the child grows, immersed in musical experiences coupled with positive support of their musical activity from parents and educators, their confidence in music making will grow as well – and the host of social, emotional, and cognitive benefits music provides will be part of their life’s journey.

Dr. Demorest tells us that perhaps the most important impact on a child’s desire to continue to make music is having an example of music making in the home.

…if you are a parent, you could sing the music you loved growing up and not worry about how good you sound. Having an adult in the home committed to music and singing without shame may be the most powerful influence on a child. You could sing with your kids from the time they are little, sing with the radio, sing in the car or sing at the dinner table.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]sing[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Along with Dr. Demorest, I find the Hungarian title of Sing very telling. It’s Mindenki, which is Hungarian for…Everybody. It’s perfect, isn’t it? I firmly believe that music is for everybody, especially singing. And when you sing with others you are more likely to have empathy for them, to listen to them when they share their ideas. You become part of a community.

I always tell my students that the main reason we have a singing voice is to give it away to others. That’s certainly true, but for young children, the singing voice allows them to express their joy in a way words alone cannot. It can heal the spirit and free the mind.

Start ’em young and keep ’em singing. They’ll thank you for it later.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][class_finder_form css=”.vc_custom_1500653314338{padding-top: 20px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][/vc_column][/vc_row]