THE BLOG

Sing and You're Winning

20/07/2015 10:54 BST | Updated 05/05/2017 10:27 BST

Last year there wasn't a week that went by without a parent uploading a dash-cam video to YouTube of them singing along to popular songs with their kids - and these videos have clocked up tens of millions of views.

And the reason they get so many views, I suppose, is how endearing it is to see the strength of the bond between parent and child. The child having not only the confidence to sing loudly and proudly - but their pure enjoyment in singing with their mum or dad.

With this in mind I was taken aback this week to hear that over a quarter of parents never sing with their children. I think this is a real shame!

The urge to make music - to sing and to dance - goes back to our earliest roots as humans and is as natural to us as communicating.

For most people, many of their earliest personal memories are memories of music. When we listen to and participate in music, the same, deep-level parts of the brain become active as those that are involved in regulating our emotions. These are the parts of the brain are where many of our earliest, and strongest, memories are stored.

If you find you child is reluctant to sing, here are some hints and tips to get you started:

1. Let your child choose the music. Research suggests that children learn best in situations where they are allowed to make their own choices. As adults, we have to spend so much time telling our children what to do. But choosing the music is a great opportunity to let the child be in charge, for a change!

2. Don't worry if your child is obsessed with one particular song. Almost everyone can remember, when they were young, a particular song that they listened to again and again. When we are born, our brains are wired very chaotically - and as we get older, more stable and beter organised patterns of connections start to form. Listening to the same song over and over may be pleasurable for children because it helps these stable, and better organised, patterns of firing to develop.

3. Make sure your child plays a starring role in the music. Children love things that feel relevant to them. Try replacing particular words in the song with their name.

4. Sing with you child. Children learn by watching, and imitating, others. Singing along to music with your child will mean that they will copy your singing, and learn from you. You don't have to try to teach them - just let rip and they will naturally follow!

5. Dance with your child. Research suggests that even babies, who have never been taught, still naturally move and sway to music. This can be a great opportunity to be silly, and to show them that you are capable of having fun too, and not just telling them what to do all of the time. Also you could try to copy your child's movement patterns as they dance, helping them to gain self-awareness, which helps them to gain motor skills.

And once you've child your child started, here are some tips for how to get the most out of music with your child:

6. Use music to change your child's mood, when you want to. When we listen to fast-paced music, our heart naturally beats faster and slow-paced music makes our heart slow down. This is why we put on fast music in the morning to wake up, and sing slow-paced lullabies to get children to sleep.

7. Children naturally yo-yo in terms of their mood - they are often either really up and excited, or down. Putting on music with a regular beat (in a car journey, say) can help your child stay in a constant mood, and help avoid upsets during a long car journey. And quickly putting on a track just as they're starting to get upset, and singing along, can be a great way to help them to calm down.

8. Use particular songs at particular times of day. Children love familiarity and singing the same calming song every night at bedtime can help a child feel safe and relaxed. Similarly, it can help to use songs to mark particular times of day - such as using a particular song to get dressed to. Using music in this way can help children to learn sequences of actions by pairing them with songs.

9. Play songs with a strong narrative. This will mean children will want to listen to songs all the way through - which is a great way of encouraging them to concentrate for longer periods.

10. Listen to the language in songs. Sometimes, just try reciting just the lyrics to a song, without the accompanying melody. This can be a great way to teach children about metre in spoken language, and rhyme.

Dr Sam Wass is supporting Nick Jr.'s nationwide Sing-Along Summer Tour which gives budding young singers the chance to enter a competition to sing on national TV, with the very best featured on Nick Jr. at the end of August. For more information visit nickjr.co.uk/singalongsummer