How music helps kids with their mental and physical health?
The Greek philosopher Plato once said, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” Music, indeed, has a significant influence on us, particularly on our children. It can help them develop coordination, relieve anxiety, and even help to make them smarter.
Let’s take a closer look at the benefits that music has on our children and discuss ways that we can nurture the musician inside of them.
Music and physical health
What child doesn’t like to move to the beat of a song? Using music helps both children and adults have a more successful workout, and it is beneficial in several other ways. The clapping, jumping, and dancing that children like to do to the beat of music helps them to practice their motor skills. Even swaying to music helps with balance, and when children do the hand movements to a song like “Itsy-Bitsy Spider,” they develop better hand-eye coordination.
In addition to assisting with physical activity, music influences the amount of pain we feel. Bob Marley probably said it best: “One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.” It turns out that there is some truth in that statement. Music has been shown to alleviate chronic pain. In one study, patients with fibromyalgia, a condition that causes severe pain in the joints, felt less pain after listening to their favorite music. It’s also been shown to lessen the discomfort of surgery. So, the next time your little one sustains a minor injury, try some soothing music to help ease the pain.
And did that minor injury come from poor hand-eye coordination? That is one sign among many that your child may have a vision problem. Others include squinting, headaches, and having a short attention span when reading. “Crowding” is a condition that makes it tough to distinguish letters when they are close together, and it is linked directly to the enjoyment of music. A person with crowding issues sees in two dimensions. As this problem is corrected, their sense of music also expands. Susan R. Barry, PhD explains that people with crowding issues put more effort into seeing, which detracts from their other senses, and the “sense of immersion” that one experiences when seeing in 3D spills over into the way they hear music.
Music can also affect mental health. Twenty percent of adolescents have mental difficulties that could lead them to abuse drugs or alcohol at some point during their lives. Music, however, can be used as a coping skill. If a child is feeling helpless, for example, they can play or sing empowering music to help them get over that feeling. Playing an instrument or singing can also be a cathartic experience, helping people to cope with negative emotions.
Playing music may also have long-term mental health benefits. Researchers reviewed the brain scans of children between 6 and 18 years old. They discovered that those who played instruments possessed a thicker brain cortex in areas of the brain that regulated anxiety levels and emotions than those who did not play an instrument. Additionally, a study in the Psychology of Music showed that children who received piano lessons over three years possessed higher self-esteem than those who did not.
In addition to mental health benefits, studies have also shown that music allows connections in the brain to form that may not otherwise. In other words, a child’s brain that is exposed to music is better able to fire on all cylinders. This allows a child’s mind to work at a higher cognitive level, which increases their creativity and boosts their brainpower.
Music can also help with language development. Everyone is born with the innate ability to decipher words and sounds, and music works to increase that natural ability. Musical training helps develop the part of the brain that works with processing language, which explains why children can absorb things much easier when the information is presented over familiar tunes such as the alphabet song.
How children can take advantage of music
With all of the above benefits of music, we need to take advantage of it, but how can we do that?
For young children who are not ready to learn a formal instrument, there is still plenty that you can do:
- Put on educational television programs that teach with music.
- Play music in the background during play or nap time.
- Sing to them.
- Make do-it-yourself instruments from household items.
- Play musical games.
When it is time to consider a musical instrument, there’s no telling what your child may like, so the best thing to do, if possible, is to buy an inexpensive, beginner’s instrument or even rent one. Common beginners’ instruments include keyboards, guitars, and recorders.
Should you decide to try out the ever-popular guitar with your child, there are many things to keep in mind:
- Pick out a basic one with no fancy features. A fancy one will make the learning process more complicated.
- Choose the right size. Consider the length of your child’s arm and how much weight they can comfortably hold when making your decision.
- Get a guitar with a lighter gauge string. Heavier gauges are harder to play.
- Purchase your guitar at a store with a good return policy. Trying it out will take a little time, and you don’t want to be stuck with something you’re not going to use.
- Have your child try out the guitar before you purchase it. You don’t know if it’ll work for them until you do.
Music has many benefits for everyone but especially for children. It can be used to cope with anxiety, deal with strong emotions, develop motor skills, and even increase self-esteem. Incorporate music into your young child’s daily routine, and encourage your older child to learn a musical instrument. That way, they can benefit from all that music has to offer.