We’re All in This Together: How Music and Singing Benefits Trauma-Affected Children
By Marc Bermann, Recruiter/Trainer
With the summer months upon us and our thoughts turning to summer fun, it's important to revisit one of the simplest and most meaningful of human activities: music and singing.
Music is everywhere: on the radio, in movies and television shows, and as a backdrop when people shop or celebrate holidays and other milestones. Music is an integral part of cultures all over the world. Music can express emotions not otherwise easily communicated. It also provides a sense of community and belonging and can help unite divided people and sooth the stresses of everyday life. Playing musical instruments or singing has a number of therapeutic benefits to trauma-affected children. From the earliest days after their birth, children can be calmed by music. It can help them work out their feelings and provide comfort when they need an emotional boost. Acknowledging the value of music can help build and sustain an important relationship between parents and children and youth in care.
While many parents are familiar with the mood-enhancing benefits of music, they may not know that music has developmental benefits. According to Don Campbell, internationally known educator and author of The Mozart Effect for Children, music enhances intelligence, coordination, emotional expression, creativity and socialization skills. Studies have suggested that music and movement affect all areas of development. Music can bolster listening skills, improve motor skills, assist with problem-solving and promote better reasoning. Many others say that music can calm and focus the mind, which is why it is so often used by therapists. In addition, singing sharpens children’s ability to communicate. Learning a piece of information attached to a tune will reinforce it to the memory cells of the brain. Music is also fun, so much so that trauma-affected children may not realize they’re actually learning. If children don’t think of singing as work, they may be more willing to participate in classroom activities, which may carry over into improved homework completion.
Music can be used to open doors of increased positive socialization and building friendships for children and youth with social challenges. Joining a choral group or participating in a percussion activity after school will immediately provide children and youth with a positive outlet as well as a distraction from their trauma history. Since music is so much a part of human emotional expression, it is beneficial throughout one’s life and can be a valuable teaching tool for foster parents who are faced with the challenging behavior of children and youth with a trauma history. Consult with your child’s therapist for more information about the benefits of using music and singing to stabilize their behavior.
Remember, we are all in this together, in the best interests of the children and youth who can benefit from our roles as caregivers, teachers and mentors.