Thoughtful Parenting: Words and music | SteamboatToday.com

Thoughtful Parenting: Words and music

Chris Young/For Steamboat Today

Thoughtful Parenting First Impressions

Lullaby and goodnight, with roses bedight

With lilies o’er spread is baby’s wee bed

Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

Lay thee down now and rest, may thy slumber be blessed

— Brahms’ Lullaby (Lullaby and Goodnight)

Brahms' beautiful melody combined with comforting words is a perfect song for a caregiver (Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, etc.) to sing to an infant.

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"Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral" (An Irish Lullaby) also offers soothing, repetitive words and melody that are calming to a wee one. Plus, they aid a baby in gradually learning that sounds are words that have meaning.

Sounds and music associated with safety and nurturing are a priceless gift to our children. As we change their diapers, get them dressed, feed them, clean up messes, etc., we can talk (and sing) to our growing babies about what we and they are doing, adding a running verbal narrative and vocabulary to the memory banks in their developing brains.

As children move into their toddler years, they begin to master the use of language to let others know what they want. They also enjoy listening to stories read at bedtime and begin telling their own stories. Whether their stories are true or real makes no difference. The important element is the child using his or her brain to create a narrative of his or her experiences.

Into the preschool years, some children develop imaginary friends with whom they have conversations. Imaginary friends provide children an opportunity to use their language and to practice relating to another child. We have placemats which depict imitation charts of various islands and coasts; on their reverse sides are words and flags used in the Joint Army/Navy Alphabet. Looking at the flags and letters, our 4-year-old granddaughter decided "Romeo" (letter R) was the perfect name for her imaginary friend (shared with her mother's permission).

The more language to which our children are exposed, the greater foundation they have for taking the next huge step — learning to read and understand what written words and sentences mean. Tragically, children who aren't talked to, read to, encouraged to tell stories and to relate their experiences are less well-prepared to learn to decode and comprehend our often inexplicable language. We adults can enrich any child's life by simply talking to them. What could be easier, or have more impact?

Some suggestions include the following.

• Talk to your child about what you are doing and why.

• Ask your child to tell you what he or she is doing and help him or her expand the story.

• Point out words on signs, such as STOP, and say the word.

• Sing nursery rhymes or other familiar songs with children, especially while driving.

• Play "I spy with my little eye something that begins with the letter …"

• Play music in your home, without TV, iPad, or other electronic device.

• Encourage your child to move to the music and make up original words.

Chris Young, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice specializing in children and families. For more information, visit her website at mdyphd.com. She can be reached at 970-879-3032.