A Song to Ease Separation Anxiety
Posted August 8, 2017 by Music Together Worldwide
“I still remember how nervous I felt on my son’s first day of preschool,” says Music Together teacher Ellen Acuna. “I wondered if my spirited three-year-old would sit still, follow directions, or exercise impulse control if a classmate knocked down his blocks. I know he had worries of his own. Would he have to eat the snack the school gave him? Would he like his teacher? And, most frightening of all, would I come back to pick him up? If you are preparing to send your little one off to preschool or kindergarten this fall, I’m sure you understand!”
Transitions can be hard for young children (and grownups!). Not knowing what to expect can cause anxiety—often expressed with tears. That’s one reason routines and rituals are comforting. When you know what will happen next, moving on isn’t so scary.
Music is a great tool to help your child with transitions. Songs can be used to signal that a change is coming, easing transition-related anxiety between activities, like playtime to clean-up time, or settings, like home to school.
A special Music Together song, “They Come Back,” has helped many children through the transition from home to school with less anxiety. Download an mp3 and PDF of the music below.
“They Come Back” song download
(You may have to right-click on this link and click “save link as” to download the song.)
“They Come Back” music
The lyrics acknowledge some of the feelings your child may have (“sometimes you miss them and sometimes you’re sad, sometimes you kiss them and sometimes you get very mad”), as well as an affirmation that “whoever takes care of you comes back, because they do love you.”
In the weeks before school starts, sing “They Come Back” with your child as you talk about school together. Then make singing it a part of your routine whenever you’ll be separated. This way, the song will signal that a separation is coming, allow your child time to process their feelings, and remind them that someone they love will come back for them.
At one point or another, we have all experienced the connection and bonding that can arise when making music or dancing with another person or in a group.
Maybe it was singing in a choir or singing as a family in the car. Maybe it was dancing the “Electric Slide” at a wedding, chanting a sports anthem in a stadium, or making music in your Music Together class.
In recent years, research has gained a better understanding of how and why the experience of shared music-making and movement can lead to such wonderful, and often profound, feelings of connection and unity. Advances in brain research have revealed that shared music-making can activate and synchronize similar neural connections in all participants, which results in feelings of togetherness and shared purpose and fosters positive social interactions and increased empathy between the adults.
The research suggests that these benefits extend to young children as well. Preschoolers who engaged in joint music and movement activities showed greater group cohesion, cooperation, and prosocial behavior when compared to children who did not engage in the same music activities. The increased empathy and commitment (feeling of “we”) observed in the children in the music-making group was theorized to emerge from the shared intentions and collective goal of singing and dancing together. Even in infancy, adult-child music and movement interactions can lead to increased coordination and connection, both rhythmically and emotionally, between adult and child. Researchers now propose this might support infants’ earliest abilities to engage in positive social interactions with others.
This news certainly has great implications for the fields of education, child development, and music therapy, but it also relates to our everyday lives in areas of family bonding and community-building. How wonderful that the simple and enjoyable act of making music together can lead to changes in cooperation, prosocial behavior, and emotional understanding for both young and old!
If you have any questions about the studies cited above, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Especially important for parents of babies, toddlers & preschoolers in Champaign Urbana to know: Musical Intelligence, like other intelligences, is evenly distributed throughout the population with only a mere 2% having extremely low or extremely high musical aptitude. So, it's pretty likely that your child is musically inclined! As parents we want to encourage our childrens' interests and intelligences but, unless music is our expertise, we often don't know where to start or what early childhood classes will foster a musically intelligent child and make the most effective use of our resources. Over the next several blogs we'll explore 4 essential principles that will not only help you get started in providing a musical envinronment but also assist you in choosing the type of music class for your Baby, Toddler & Preschooler that will most effectively nuture their musical intelligence and enjoyment of music making.
The 4 essential principles.
Research backs it up too. With 86% of us being born with average to high Musical intelligence and only 2% in the extremely low range or high range, we all have the potential to understand and enjoy making music! Whether we sing in a choir, play an instrument, participate in a band or musical theatre.
Studies have shown that even babies are alert and responding to many aspects of music such as out of place pitches, high and low pitches and the shape of a melody. They even adjust their cooing to match a song!
If their innate music intelligence is given a musically rich environment, children easily blossom into miniature music makers. Their musical aptitude develops in response to active music-making just as their language skills develop in response to being around other speakers. With the right environment, children can learn to sing and dance as naturally and skillfully as they walk and talk.
This leads us to the second point, that All children can achieve Basic Music Competency (BMC) or, in other words, they can all learn to sing in tune and move with accurate rhythm. No child needs to become "that adult" wedding guest who can't dance on beat or that church choir member that can't sing in-tune.
Also, additional information regarding the philosophy & method of our brand new Early Childhood classes can be found at: www.MusicTogether.com
Music Together Worldwide