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  • Sierra Verity-Beasley

The Power of Music: Helping Kids Relax and Unwind (and songs without annoying synth-y flute sounds)

Parents, I see you - you strive to create a calm and peaceful environment for your kids, both during waking hours and when it's time to wind down for sleep. You know that when they sleep well, everyone is much happier the next day. You know music has a profound impact on our emotions and can be harnessed to help children relax, find comfort, and prepare for a restful sleep. But how do we really get it to work for our unique kiddos, and how can we avoid the incredibly annoying sounds that appear in many children's relaxation playlists?

Well, take a look at a music therapy perspective on selecting and introducing music that promotes relaxation and aids in the bedtime routine.

  • The Choice Choose Soothing and Gentle Melodies. That means no big grand or dramatic jumps from low to high notes. Look for compositions with gentle melodies and a slower tempo. Look for instrumental pieces or songs with no vocals or soft vocals that won't distract the busy thinking mind with words, and instead that have a calming effect (tip: if you really want words try selecting a song in a foreign language). Nature sounds or ambient music can also create a serene atmosphere. Avoid songs with intense or stimulating rhythms, as they may have the opposite effect. Experiment with different genres, such as classical, instrumental, lullabies, or gentle acoustic tunes, to find what resonates most with your child's preferences. I love this gentle guitar music as an alternative to new age genres by Ryan Judd (fellow music therapist).

  • Familiarity is Key Introduce familiar songs that your child already enjoys into the relaxation routine. Research tells us time and time again that familiarity brings a sense of comfort and security, promoting relaxation and creating positive associations with the bedtime routine. Sing or play your child's favorite lullabies or gentle tunes they associate with relaxation. If you child is too young to have favourites, this might mean playing it repeatedly during calm and relaxing moments so they can associate the song with that calm state. For daytime calming activities that still have a bit of energy in them, try this buoyant piece by Erik Satie.

  • Ritual and Repetition Establish a Relaxation Ritual! Create a consistent relaxation ritual that incorporates music as a cue for relaxation and sleep. This routine could include dimming the lights, playing the chosen music, and engaging in calming activities like gentle massage, deep breathing exercises, or reading a soothing story together. By establishing a predictable routine, your child will learn to associate the music with relaxation, signaling their body and mind that it's time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Incorporating music into your child's waking and sleeping routines can be a powerful tool to promote relaxation and create a peaceful atmosphere. By selecting soothing melodies, incorporating familiar songs, and establishing a relaxation ritual, you can help your child unwind and prepare for sleep with the aid of music therapy techniques. Remember, each child is unique, so observe their responses and adjust the music choices to cater to their individual preferences.


Sierra Verity-Beasley

Registered Music Therapist Resound Music Therapy


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