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American Music Therapy Association

Music and the Young Child — A Healthy Partnership

All young children love music. They experience music by hearing it, by moving to it, by banging to it, and by playing with their voices. Music is a part of the young child's world.

Music can:
  • nurture attachment,
  • provide a safe environment for realizing, exploring and sharing creativity
  • calm when words cannot,
  • offer an outlet for coping with emotions,
  • give structure and information in a non-threatening way,
  • provide opportunities for making a unique contribution to a group experience,
  • foster self-confidence and feelings of success.
Little ones enjoy being sung to:
  • With a quiet lullaby at nap time and bedtime as you rock. Keep the beat slow and steady. Many young children will find this special time very calming.
  • About activities of her day -- no need to use the same words each time. Making up words that describe her activity is fun for both of you and demonstrates your interest in your child's world.
  • With children's songs that are familiar to him (such as "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"). Sing them over and over. The song's familiarity is predictable and comforting.
  • With your favorite songs. She will enjoy seeing you enjoy and share music, too.
  • As you transition between activities or places. The music will help your child accept and anticipate change.
Little ones enjoy sounds:
  • That have surprises (like "Pop! Goes the Weasel"),
  • That rattle or ring or come from music boxes or musical toys,
  • Or from things found around the house (such as pots and pans),
  • That are in their environment - such as trains or birds singing,
  • That they can make with their bodies (like clapping, tapping or patting), and
  • That help them express themselves and their feelings in a safe and acceptable way.
A few tips for using music with your little one:
  • Don't be shy about singing - your child will respond to the rhythm, melody and the joy with which you sing...and he will welcome the chance to share this time with you.
  • Match your child's energy level - upbeat songs when she's ready for play and lullabies when she's tired.
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat....do it again, and again, and again. Children learn through repetition.
  • Expose your little one to many different types of music. Borrow CDs from the library or listen to examples online before purchasing -- find the ones that you and your child like most.
  • By making music with your child, you can share traditions of your culture.
  • Let your child lead; comment on and praise his ideas. This validates him and builds selfesteem and confidence,
  • Relax and enjoy this special time for interacting and sharing with your little one.

Take time to share music with your child - from the cradle and throughout life!

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs to talk, please call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

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