Since becoming a Dad I have come home from work countless times to blaring kids songs coming from our living room. I have to be honest that I have had moments when I thought to myself, “Look what music I’ve been reduced to; I used to regularly enjoy incredible show tunes, symphonies, powerful rock and roll, smooth and lively jazz, majestic arias and rousing pop and R&B. Now it’s a constant deluge of The wheels on the bus. Is there any greater punishment?” But, any mental complaint I’ve had, has always been silenced by the ear to ear grins, dancing and utter delight that I see emanating from my kids as I round the corner to the living room.
One day recently I gave my wife a call at lunchtime to say hello and see how things were going. Her voice was deeper than usual and somewhat monotone. I could tell that it had been “one of those mornings.” Nothing had exploded. Nobody was dead. But, I could tell there had been a certain level of tension throughout the morning that despite her best efforts to be cheerful, had changed my wife’s voice.
Later that same day I came home from work with a notion that I might be walking into an irritable fog. I put on a smile and prepared myself for what I anticipated would be an uphill battle to restore peace in my home. As I walked through the door, I experienced something far different than what I expected. I experienced calm and happiness. The tone of my wife’s voice was back in the pixy range it usually is and the kids were playing, giggling and as pleasant as anyone could ever hope for.
I just went along with it and didn’t question what had happened because, whatever happened, I appreciated it. Later after the kids had gone to bed my wife told me what had happened.
“It was a hard morning,” she started out. The boys were refusing to get chores done and were whining and complaining about school work. She had followed through with consequences previously set, but everyone was just getting more and more irritated and struggling to work together. Then my wife explained, “I didn’t like how things were going, so I thought we would switch things up. I just turned on some music and invited the kids to dance with me. We danced for 20 or 30 minutes and had a blast!”
She expressed experiencing the same feelings I had, when I entered the room and saw the kids singing and dancing; JOY! She said, “How can you be upset and irritable when your baby girl is smiling that real smile that scrunches up her nose, or when your little boys are shaking their hips and sticking out their lips while they sing along with Michael Bubble? It’s almost impossible.”
After their family dance club session, everyone felt better. Everyone was responding to each other with interest, happiness and respect. The boys got right in and did their chores and school work after that without repeated prompts from mom. Their dance session had been the greatest discipline my wife could have administered.
Music and dance have incredible affects on people. Beats and rhythm, as well as lyrics can alter mood, thought patterns and even physical healing. We’ve all seen its affects in our lives but how often do we, as parents, use music and dance as a proactive, deliberate and intentional tool to teach and improve relationships?
4 Differences Music and Dance Make in Your Home
1. Set the mood #1:
As I researched this topic I read a study that compared two groups of mice. All things were common between the two groups except for the music that was piped into their cages. One group listened to classical music. The other listened to heavy metal. The hypothesis was that they expected the mice that listened to the classical music to improve their time running a maze more dramatically than those that listened to the heavy metal. In the end, the study was inconclusive.
The group that listened to the classical music did indeed improve their maze learning, but they were unable to complete the study because the mice that listened to the heavy metal music killed each other. Yes, killed each other!
Parents can set the tone of the home atmosphere with various types of music. I’m not suggesting that classical music is all we listen to but it may be productive to recognize different music’s affects and set the mood accordingly.
2. Play energetic music when doing chores or cleaning #2:
Think for a moment about the theme music from Forrest Gump” vs. music from “Rocky’s, The Eye of the Tiger.” Think of how you feel when listening to each. Sometimes we would like there to be a calm, peaceful feeling in the home and we can play music that appropriately sets that tone. Sometimes it might be nice to get things moving a little more. I don’t know about you but when my kids need to clean up, I want them to have “the eye of the tiger.” At young ages, simple songs like, “clean up, clean up, everybody clean up” can make chores and work requests more bearable. If you don’t believe this watch the scene from Disney’s “Enchanted” of the “Happy working song.”
You may even have some forest animals join in if the song is good enough. Who says life can’t be a musical.
3. Sing to your kids when you are irritable #3:
When you feel like yelling, sing instead. This method can work wonders to manage our own vocal tones and ensure that we don’t allow our irritation to run away and cause greater problems. It also makes the request more fun and palatable for the children.
Dance can also give us some much needed exercise that can greatly affect how we feel and in turn how our kids may respond.
4. Singing at bedtime builds connection #4:
Singing at bedtime is just fun and lets our kids know they are loved and appreciated. It helps to establish a positive experience at bedtime rather than making bedtime monotonous and a tedious chore or battle.
When you feel like you are engaging is a negative cycle and are not sure what to do, consider a song. The right kind of music can teach lessons and cause positive feelings to boil to the surface. A little dance can turn a rotten day into a day to remember.
Question: How has music affected your life and/or the life of your family? What songs help you and your kids learn, relax, exercise, work, etc?
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