Vacation Insights

I've been on vacation. And you know how it is after vacation – you come back to your "real life" full of wisdom, perspective, and good intentions. So while I actually (and truly) don't think I particularly fit the bill of the "hyperparent" (and maybe that's why this article resonates with me…don't we love to be told we're right?), this article hit some nice notes with me so I thought I'd pass it along, if for no better reason than to make you feel good about the non-hyper-parenting you're already doing.


How to Let Go of Hyperparenting and Learn to Relax With Your Kids

Being a child isn’t always easy.

“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” – C.G. Jung

Post written by Leo Babauta. Follow me on Twitter.

If you’re a hyperparent, you might not even know it — we parents tend to be in denial about that sort of thing.

But if you are, you might want to learn to relax — for your kids’ sake, and for yours.

Hyperparents are spotted when they are trying to educate their child from the womb, and expose them to the most intellectually stimulating music and art and literature before the kid can crawl. They obsess over everything, from whether the child is learning fast enough to how safe every single thing is to every little scrape and bruise. They are overprotective, overbearing, overwhelming to the child.

I admit, I was a hyperparent once, and still can be sometimes. It’s a habit I’m trying to break, with some success.

And for those of you who are hyperparents, and will admit it if only to yourselves, I’d like to share some things I’ve learned, in hopes that it’ll help.

Be forewarned that some of these suggestions take a very different approach to parenting than the traditional methods — I’m not suggesting everyone follow them, especially if you’re not willing to break with traditions. What I am suggesting is that these methods will help you relax, will help your child feel freer and less controlled and more able to explore and learn on her own, and could possibly result in a better relationship with your child and a happier child overall. I don’t have proof of that yet, but I have a strong hunch based on how my kids react when I do these things right.

1. When you get angry, pick them up and hug them. Instead of scolding or spanking or time outs or other controlling methods, try love. It’s a much better response, and you’re teaching your child through your actions rather than your words.

2. Make this your mantra: treat them with kindness, treat them with respect. Seems simple, but it’s surprising how little respect we give to kids, because they’re kids.

3. Drop your expectations of the child. Often parents have high hopes of the child doing well academically, or in sports, or of becoming a professional, when that’s not what the child wants. Or the parent hopes the child will be a certain type of person, and tries to steer the child toward that — a mild, kind child, or a bright, cheerful child, or a studious, hard-working child — but that’s not who the child is. Drop these expectations, and celebrate the child, as she is.

4. Let her play, let her explore. Stop being so overprotective. Allow the kid to be a kid. Let her run around outside, ride a bike, explore nature, play with fire. Teach her, of course, about safety and dangers, but let her be a kid.

5. Say yes, or some version of yes. Instead of saying no. Often parents have an instinct to say no. But this is controlling and stressful, to both child and parent. Stop trying to control the child, and give him some freedom. That doesn’t mean you can say yes all the time, because you have needs too, but it does mean you can say “Yes, we can do that … but perhaps later, when I’m done with what I have to do now.”

6. Stop trying to overeducate, and get out of the way. Parents try to impart all kinds of knowledge on kids. So do schools. But kids learn naturally, without us. Get out of the way, stop trying to force the kid to learn what you think he needs to learn. Encourage him to explore, and read, and figure stuff out. Get him excited about things. When he’s excited about something, he’ll learn. When you force it on him, he’ll do what he’s forced to do, but not learn much other than you’re controlling.

7. Just focus on making the next interaction with them positive. Many of these changes are difficult to make for parents, as we have deeply ingrained habits, stemming from our own childhood. So just focus on the next interaction. Just try to make the next one a good one. Don’t worry about when you screw up — just apologize if you’ve broken a trust, and move on.

8. Take a moment to pause, and see things from your child’s perspective. If you get angry, it’s because you’re only seeing things from your perspective. The child has a completely different view of things, and if you can understand that view, you won’t be mad at the child. You’ll try to make things better for her.

9. If the kid is “acting up”, try to figure out why, and meet that need. Often it’s a need for freedom, or attention, or love, or to be in control of his own life. Figure out what that need is, and find a more productive way to meet it.

10. The kid is already perfect as he is. You don’t need to change him. You don’t need to mold him into the perfect person. He’s already perfect, just as he is.

And now, relax. Enjoy every moment with your child, because they are too few, too impermanent. Trust me — my oldest daughter is 16, and I can’t believe how fast her childhood has come and gone. Cherish this time with them, and make every moment a good one. You’ll never regret those moments of happiness, those moments when you said yes, when you let your child play, when you stopped controlling and started loving.


The Kindermusik Secret

I love being a Kindermusik educator. I've done so for six years now, and I never tire of watching the parents interact with their children in my classroom – the shared laughter, the creative moments of discovery, and the memories that will surely be cherished for many years to come.

Well, I've come here to tell you a secret. Promise not to tell anyone? It may be quite shocking to some of you!

I'm not the teacher in my Kindermusik classroom.


Well, as a Kindermusik educator, I believe YOU, the parent, are your child's most important teacher. No one will ever know or understand your children like you do, and as they grow and learn, you will be the most important factor in their success.

So what exactly is my job as a Kindermusik teacher then?

• providing an open environment where you and your children can learn and grow together

• coaching you as you explore the world of music with your child

• educating you about your child's development and finding new ways to enhance that development

While I wear many hats (sometimes literally) in my classroom, being the best teacher for your child is not one of them. That is an honor reserved for you. Wear it with pride, and don’t forget, that little "teacher secret", it's just between us!


Guest Contributor: Aimee Carter Delightful Sounds, Inc. (813) 503-6976

Twitter Word of the Day: “Twinkle”


…a.k.a. "24 Hours of Twinkle") 

(from Twitter, Aug 2-3)

  • L3SLY: Twinkle twinkle……today is happy day!! Smiles!!
  • frickenlily: Twinkle toes
  • Rockywoman1977: You are the sun, You make me shine, Or more like the stars, That twinkle at night.
  • snazzyjazzy615: Woke up not feeling too well but I'm sure it's gonna be a great day lml. Even when it rains there's a twinkle of happiness
  • rhiibabyyx: 'twinkle twinkle little star how i wonder what you ate for breakfast'
  • iWIC3: I learned The Alphabet Song on piano at age 6, Twinkle Twinle Little Star on guitar at age 15 before realizing they're identical.
  • roberto8080: @SEOnounou Try installing Twinkle on your iPod. It locates your position based on your IP and then the nearby Tweets.
  • Marissaisme: @ddlovato Absolutely, love at first sight is like looking at the stars and watching them twinkle 😉 Thats what i believe
  • VinaFina: downloading children songs, twinkle twinkle little star
  • Marina_Dee: Everyone's a star and deserves the right to twinkle -Marilyn Monroe
  • NessaSlashRice: this song sounds like that song in music but more twinkle twinkle little star calmstyle! Now its stuck in my head
  • earnestgirl: @triciahonea yes, he had more charisma. I like it when you can see the twinkle tucked in the corner of their eye. (Newman vs. Redford)
  • MaliciousMal: did i mention i love the twinkle lights... i've been toying w/ the idea of having a tree all year, it is the best way to light a room
  • MiszStush: Its Twinkle Toes Bday <3 Yay!
  • appletreecafe: i've got the twinkle lights set up…the mood is set 🙂
  • cat_kim: I caved in on Twinkle Toes shoes and a Hello Kitty alarm clock. She also mentioned she wanted rock star pants, thx Disney.
  • bigsby_b: It has songs like "Twinkle Twinkle Little Earth" & "Highly Illogical." It is the most entertaining thing ever.
  • rachelstarlive: And suddenly the thought of owning my own tiger entered my head… no, Twinkle would get jealous.
  • AtrayuAdkins24: Twinkle, twinkle lucky star, Can you send me luck from where you are? Can you make a rainbow shine that far? Twinkle, twinkle lucky star.
  • averita_: My cat's pupils are gigantic right now. It's kind of scary, actually. Also, I've had Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in my head on/off for DAYS.
  • shawnyblueeyes: ok. piano time is over. glad i could finally play a song other than 'twinkle twinkle little star' and 'mary had a little lamb'. lol.
  • cardiffbites: annie and phillipe are so cute in the archive footage. and when she talks about him you can see a twinkle in her eye
  • candicecd: my niece is singing "twinkle twinkle little star", bob dylan style
  • brianjbradley: The ice cream truck outside my apartment is playing "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" over and over again…
  • CleoK: @Codeda LOL.. I do that too! You have such a delightful twinkle & way of writing.. you'll get a Debbie Allen "dig deeeeeeper" moment & wala!
  • OleanderLemon: Goodmorning sunshine, the earth says hello. You twinkle up above, we twitter below.
  • Chrish720: There was a twinkle of humanity in that.


Scaffolding on the Beach

by Kate Pavey, Kindermusik educator


Scaffolding is something we often engage in during an Our Time class. The children are encouraged to explore an object or an instrument in their own way in whatever way they feel best. The parent or caregiver watches the child – and for the most part, imitates the child – while carefully introducing new elements and levels (like scaffolds) which the child can choose to explore.  

Entering the world of a child in this way can become totally absorbing and strangely relaxing. As we engage in this play with our children, we too begin to play and explore – perhaps suggesting new ways to play together, but never dictating that there is a right or wrong way to do something. 

During our recent family holiday to Devon, my son Isaac and I were on the beach playing on the body board in the waves. After a few tumbles head first into very salty water, Isaac headed off to play in the wet sand. He engrossed himself in construction work, building up mounds of sand and rock into structures to see if they could withstand the quickly approaching sea making its way up the beach. At first I was frustrated; we had come to play in the waves and I wanted him to come and join me.  

In that moment, I thought about the way we encourage play in class. I went over, instead, and started to build alongside Isaac. Within moments I had become absorbed into his world. Focusing on a single simple activity with no agenda is so relaxing. Together we built bigger and better structures, running up and down the beach to collect rocks. We laughed heartily when the waves smashed into them and sent them flying and we had the most amazing fun. 

I learnt how important it is for our children's self esteem to be enthusiastically involved with their projects, however small, and for us to find again our lust for the simple things in life that we wondered at as children. 


GUEST CONTRIBUTOR: Kate Pavey, licensed Kindermusik educator since 2001, runs Musikate, a program in Colchester Essex UK.  

Artists: Living With Music

 Peter TerzianNic BrownLaird Hunt

The New York Times' "Paper Cuts" blog runs a series called "Living With Music". In it, artists (writers, musicians, dancers, and others) talk about the impact and influence music has on their lives and work. Each artist's entry includes an annotated playlist of songs that have been significant in one way or another.

Here is the excerpt that brought this series to my attention. From writer Aleksander Hemon, actually an old writing teacher of mine:

"I cannot live or write without music. It stimulates the normally dormant parts of my brain that come in handy when constructing fiction. A particular piece of music attaches itself to the piece I’m writing and there is nothing else I can listen to. Every day I return to the same space to write, the music providing both the walls and the pictures on the walls. Once I’m done and the piece is published, I often have a hard time remembering what piece of music is inscribed (or, indeed, transcribed) in it, as there are no visible, let alone obvious, connections, apart from an occasional embedded line. I think that is because the music and writing become indistinguishable to the aforementioned dormant parts, which constitute the majority of my brain mass."

To read the rest of the article and Aleksander Hemon's full playlist:

Living With Music: Aleksandar Hemon

To check out other playlists: 

  • Living With Music: A Playlist by Toni Bentley
  • Living With Music: A Playlist by Laird Hunt
  • Living With Music: A Playlist by Nic Brown
  • Living With Music: A Playlist by Peter Terzian
  • Living With Music: A Playlist by Suzanne Vega

    Pay It Forward: Jon Muth


    Gonna try a new series here, called "Pay It Forward". We all know that (does it make me sound old if I use the phrase "in this day and age"?), word-of-mouth is THE way to get popular. But no longer are people talking about their favorite things, places, people, and experiences one-on-one with a neighbor over the backyard fence; today they spread the word digitally, globally, far and wide.

    We know that most people who try Kindermusik love Kindermusik. And I mean REALLY LOVE Kindermusik.

    So as a little "Pay It Forward" gesture to get people talking about the things they love (shouldn't we all be doing this more, after all?), I thought I'd have a little fun and also rack up a little karma by talking here about some of my favorite things, brands, places, people, etc. – and of course open it up to y'all to chime in with your own. Now let's be clear: these aren't official, Kindermusik-approved brands or partnerships or recommendations. They're just me and my own little life – but isn't that how today's marketing is? Word-of-mouth recommendations from one "little ole me" after another. 

    So here goes – Pay It Forward, Installment 1: Jon Muth 

    I love Jon Muth. Writer and illustrator of children's books, his top 4 (and the 4 I have) are Zen Shorts, Zen Ties, The Three Questions, and Stone Soup. I have a 3-year-old – and when I bought the first of these four books, I did it knowing full well that, let's face it, I was really buying the book for myself. Having been in the business of children's publishing for 10 years, I'm a sucker for a well written, beautifully illustrated children's book. Especially when it's a new title. We all have those beautiful, classic, hardcover books that we give new parents as gifts or hold onto for our own children's children – but a *new* book that gives me that want-to-hold-the-book-to-my-chest-and-hug-it feeling…well, that's pretty great. Optimistic. Right? 

    So I bring the book home, leave it in the stack. (You can't suggest much to my daughter; you have to just leave things around strategically for her to discover so they seem to be her idea…sound familiar to anyone?) She plucks it out, we begin, and by page 3 I've already decided (shame on me) that it's over her head. I ask, "Would you rather read another book?" No, keep going. And at the end of the book, she asks me to go back to the beginning and read it again. She absorbs, laughs in the right places, asks these remarkable questions, and says "That's a pretty nice book, huh." And it ("the Stillwater book", a panda named Stillwater being a primary character) shot to the top of the rotation for weeks. And so on, until we have 4 Jon Muth books, each of which continues to stun me, after dozens of readings, with its ability to capture a young mind with such sprawling, universal, kindness-related topics that they'd be hard to even summarize here. These books aren't for everyone – see above re: little ole me and my little life – but they sure bowl me over. Our most recent favorite in this household is The Three Questions, a creative reworking of a Tolstoy short story. Man, is it great.


    “Music and Literacy” in Encyclopaedia Britannica

    File:Encyclopædia Britannica logo.jpg Britannica now has an entry for "music and literacy"! The entry begins somewhat disappointingly, proposing music as merely a handy tool to teach reading, but be sure to scroll past the advertisements to get into the more interesting music-related research. I think those who have seen Kindermusik in action would be able to do more with the music and literacy connection than they have here. Still – it's a start!

    "It is widely believed that music learning, music reading, and music participation enhance academic achievement, especially reading and math (Tucker, 1981). Regardless of the method of literacy instruction, there is a growing body of literature that supports specific music experiences and activities to teach and practice essential literacy learning components. Previously noted abilities involving print–such as book handling, concepts of print, sense of story and sequence, printed letter and symbol recognition, basic spelling patterns, and early writing activities–are easily incorporated in and paired with music experiences."

    Read the entire entry here:



    For Babies, It’s All About Change


    (First of all, how great are these pictures???)

    Quick read about an interesting study, sent along by Kindermusik educator Sally Reynolds (Australia) with this note::

    This is really interesting – entirely backs up what we see happening in Village classes all the time and makes the link between understanding emotion and developing language.”

    Just as babies can intuit how to swim almost immediately upon birth, turns out infants sure know their music.

    My favorite part, as always when it comes to scientific studies of infants, is the data-collection. Because researchers don’t have any specific linguistic communication to work with, they study attention span (thank goodness no one is using these methods on me) – finding reliably that babies lose interest in something once it stops changing or being interesting. (Sound about right?)

    From the article:

    First they displayed an emotionally-neutral face for the baby while music played. When the baby looked away from the face, the music stopped and the researchers queued up a new song from a playlist of five happy and five sad songs. For each song, observers recorded how long the baby paid attention to the face. The babies that noticed a switch from happy to sad, or vice versa, stared at the face three to four seconds longer than usual because of their heightened interest.

    So despite what the hysterical pictures above show, what the study actually reveals is that babies sense not just that certain music feels “happy” and other music feels “sad” – but rather, they sense change from one to the other. Their attention is maintained if there is variety and lost if there is not. Totally, totally cool – and a good reminder to us all…though if you spend time with babies, you probably don’t need this particular reminder.

    Can’t end without dropping in this excellent sentiment from the study’s author, Ross Flomm:

    “Infants master so many things in such a short time frame. I can’t think of a better line of inquiry than how infants learn so much so quickly.”


    Inside the Kindermusik “Bubble”

    We have learned the hard way in this recession that things are not always as they seem. Banks are not as solvent, General Motors is not as mighty, real estate is not as valuable.  In fact, it seems as though we are in an epidemic of inauthenticity: character, genuineness, good faith, and sincerity are under siege. It’s no fun to read the paper anymore.

    But from within the Kindermusik bubble, the world looks like it always has. The Kindermusik classroom bursts with authenticity: tender teachers, proven curricula, friendship, music, smiles. Perhaps what Kindermusik can teach all of us at times like these is that some things are truly timeless.  Just as a playground swing still brings delight to a child as it did before iPhones, Twitter, and debit cards, Kindermusik wraps parent and child in bona fide warmth. Provides a true, joyful, and nurturing place where we can come together, share our children, and sing.   

    Nothing fancy, mighty, solvent, or newfangled.  

    But valuable? Authentic? Genuine? Sincere?  

    In a room full of children? Always.

    contributed by Michael G. Dougherty (CEO, Kindermusik International)