Happy Friendship Day today!! Just wishing you “Happy Friendship Day” probably made you think of certain people you’ve been blessed to know and who have made your life better just by being your friend. A good friend is someone who is caring, supportive, understanding, interested, kind, and giving. It’s a joy to not only have a friend, but also to BE a friend!
But have you ever wondered how to help your young child learn to be a friend? Music classes are a great place for children to gain the skills they need in order to be a good friend. Skills like…
Learning to share
Practicing the skill of sharing usually happens around a box of assorted instruments, books, or puppets.
Try this at home: Before your next play date, talk with your child about what it means to share their toys or favorite stuffed animal. You might even try a little role play to practice sharing.
During instrument demonstrations, children learn to wait for their turn. And oh the joy when the resonator bars finally get around to them!
Try this at home: The concept of taking turns seems so obvious, but it might really help the light bulb go on if you explain to your child what taking turns is – and is not. You could even do a mini demonstration of taking turns.
We parents do try to teach this at home, but there’s something about having another adult (the music teacher) model and encourage this in class too.
Try this at home: When your child’s tone starts to escalate in the wrong direction, ask them to use their low and quiet voice. This is a good example of getting the results you want by being very specific and concrete in what you ask.
Music puts kids in touch with their feelings, but the group experience of a music class helps kids learn to consider the feelings of others, especially when it comes to watching out for our friends and missing them when they miss class because of sickness.
Try this at home: Talk to your child about how they feel, and also how they think their friends might feel. With a younger child, this might take the form of telling. With older children, this will likely have the most effect if you are asking questions and taking time for the give-and-take of a healthy discussion.
Becoming a good listener
To really enjoy music, you have listen. Not just hear the sound, but listen to it – the nuances, the contrasts, the instrumentation – everything that makes music what it is. This is why focused listening activities in music class are so beneficial.
Try this at home: Encourage your child to pay attention to the sounds around them – a bird singing, a train whistling, baby brother giggling. And then help them understand what it means to be a good listener with others – giving attention, focusing, and making eye contact.
And as a word of encouragement to parents… Think of how long it has taken you as an adult to develop the skills it takes to be a good friend. Likewise, it takes years of positive reinforcement, good modeling, and patient practice for a child to gain these skills too. Starting them off young and giving them social experiences, such as those found in a music class, where they can learn and practice these skills means that they might learn these skills even sooner maybe than you did. And that’s a good thing because there’s nothing quite like the life-enriching gift of friendship.
Looking for a close-knit group of friends for your child and YOU? Join the Kindermusik community of families! Find a class near you today.