Sound is key to a child's emotional development. Not just playing commercialized programs like Baby Mozart but actually intentionally using sound to propel a child's growth is very, very powerful. After all it is the sound of praise, encouragement, unconditional love and laughter
that empowers a child's best life.
Sound is critical in development since day one. Newborns can discern between frequency and pitch while 1 - 2 month olds distinguish sounds and rhythm. It is commonly believed the first year of life is a critical period for learning the sounds of a language and developing an interest in communicating with others. I assert that such communication is not just of the cognitive nature but emotional as well.
My earliest memory is being two years old and sitting in a playpen. I was looking around thinking "how did I get here" and "why is everyone yelling at each other" while I was feeling really overwhelmed. Perhaps this is too much information but what I am trying to convey is the sounds of language that I was hearing were not just "words" but "emotional messages" being sent to me.
A child begins to develop an understanding of their emotions via what is mirrored back to them in sounds. Such sounds can be a calming parents voice or gentle music that is helps a child feel safe, secure and calm.
Using sound can take many forms to spur a child's optimum growth. Such sounds when conveyed with genuine enthusiasm, unconditional acceptance and positive intention can spark a child's healthy emotional growth. Some suggestions are as follows:
· Reading - Taking the time to read to your child conveys such crucial emotional messages. It tells a child - You are valuable, you are worthy and you are loved. It is such messages of emotional import that begin to build a child's sense of self and positive self-concept. Plus it develops a child's auditory acuity as they begin to develop listening skills.
· Laughing - Sounds of laughter heal and lift a heart like nothing else on the planet. Evidence suggests that comedy routines and laughter have physical healing benefits as well as those that laugh actually live longer and more satisfying lives. So invest in the sounds of funny children's songs or books like Dr. Cowan's the "Moose with Loose Poops" book that is both educational and silly.
· Singing - Music connects children to their creativity. It inspires more from them to sing, chant, and connects them to a higher plane of consciousness. Earlier this month I attended a night of Sacred Chants with children chanting such beautiful sacred sounds like "Om Mane Padme Hung" that you could see them brighten up! It is a Tibetan Chant or mantra of compassion. Helping children use their voice also helps them learn to self-soothe and direct their emotions.
· Talking - New parents often may the mistake of just "baby talking" to their kids when actual language or talking to kids is essential. Tying language to sensory input like a child seeing birds or touching toys is very helpful. It is language by which a brain develops its ability to direct thoughts, feelings and behavior. So really -talk away with your child, I promise they get far more than you think they do!!!
· Silence (or nature) - The sound of silence is powerful. It is here in the silence of meditation or stillness that a child really learns how to connect to his or her unique dreams, feelings and wishes. Meditating together as a family is powerful stuff. Not long ago, I led a group of 20 children in a group meditation with kids from 3 to 12 years old. And the sound of silence was extraordinary since it calmed their mind and empowered their ability to be still and experience peace.
Being able to use the power of sound to spur your child's growth is essential. It begins with recognizing the extraordinary ability your voice as a parent holds and continues in creating an environment of optimum sounds for a child's happy growth (i.e. laughter, pleasant music, sounds of nature). And never forget what you teach your child, you teach your child's child as explained in the Talmud.
[Sidenote: New parents beware of the types of sounds your children are listening to early in development. Kids learn to distinguish sounds one by one so some children's programs are actually too noisy for optimal growth. Be aware of this fact so that you can avoid noise overload for your child. Noise overload creates problems for kids later in life having difficulty with teacher directions, listening and tuning out unnecessary noises.]
By Maureen Healy
Reprinted only with written permission by author.
© Growing Happy Kids, LLC
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