We’ve all been there. Your child is behaving like an angel and suddenly turns into a little devil when you tell them that they have to do something else. It’s understandable. They’re not really little devils! They’re learning how to behave properly and what your expectations are of them. And who wants to stop something fun? Young children need routine and schedules to help them predict what their day will be like. When you plan transitions into your day it helps give them a heads-up of what’s next. And there are some great ways to ease them into the transitions of the day – with music!
Babies and toddlers absolutely adore music. They dance, sing, make sounds and bang along to it. It helps them learn and with the right lyrics it helps them focus on a task that they need to do. Moving from one task to another is called a transition. As adults we don’t really pay attention to the fact that we perform transitions all day long. To a little one, a transition can take a lot of work and control of frustration. It’s why we see a behavior issues at these times. But add in songs, chants or rhythms, then the child’s attention can shift toward what the song is about. It helps bring routine to a rather non-routine task within their play. And transition music helps to fill up the time between tasks so that you don’t see behavior that needs redirection or correction.
There are lots of songs on Spotify and iTunes to help you with your transitions so you don’t need to be a great singer. In general you shouldn’t feel self-conscious singing around kids. I have yet to have a young child be mean about my singing. Some of the easiest to remember songs use familiar songs, just with different lyrics. Others are brand new, catchy, and easy to remember. Here are some songs to use during some of the most common transitions that happen in babies’ and toddlers’ days.
Sometimes little ones really don’t want to get up, but our schedules can’t always let them get those extra Z’s or take a long time getting ourselves ready for the day. Lisa Loeb, yes the same one that was super popular in the early 90s, has written some great kids songs. And her “The Wake Up Song” is an upbeat chant-like song you can sing to get your little ones going in the morning or after naps.
Why get dressed when you’re already in cozy jammies? This “Getting Dressed” song is perfect for helping your little ones get into a routine of putting on their clothes.
“Clean It Up” by The Laurie Berkner Band is a nursery school favorite. Laurie is a preschool teacher who became a children’s music artist, so you know she’s been in the trenches of getting kids to transition to activities they really don’t want to do. And cleaning up play is one of the more challenging activities to get them to do. But this song makes a fantastic cue for them to get into the routine of cleaning up their play.
Leaving someplace fun
This was the worst for my daughter when she just wanted to stay and play, whether it was a friend’s house, the park, or any place there was another child she was having fun playing with. Getting her to sing a song to say goodbye helped because it reinforced that we were leaving and made it a softer way to say goodbye.
Similar to leaving someplace fun, having to stop play for a diaper change is a drag for toddlers. The Juice Box Heroes have a surprisingly calm and silly diaper change songs based on John Mayer’s Waiting on the World to Change. With some kids the more you distract them the better the better they’re able to get through a diaper change cooperatively.
Bath time is hit or miss with kids. Some kiddos go eagerly into bathtime play. Others you have the hardest time getting them in there and then they won’t come out! Try this song to help with the transition to bath time.
Getting ready for bed
Having a routine at bedtime is must for babies and toddlers. The younger you start the more predictable it is for them to understand that when these things happens I need to go to bed right after. Introducing a song to go along with it reinforces that message and make it a little more enjoyable. “The Get Ready for Bed” song by Mr. Steve, the Music Man gives directions and sets up your child for a healthy bedtime routine.
Going to sleep
Once your little one is ready to hit the hay, it’s time to reinforce sleepiness and calm. Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of lullabies to sing to babies and kids as they fall asleep? Well it’s because they work and for a huge portion of human history the easiest way to have music in the house was to just sing. One of my favorites is
Use that pent-up energy
Asking some children to sit still is like asking a fish not to swim. When you need your toddler to sit still for a bit, it’s time to get the sillies out. Local Silicon Valley area favorite Andy Z has a great version of “Shake My Sillies Out”. I like to do this with my kids before getting in the car, going into church or even visiting an older family relative.
“Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” is a great way to not only teach your child but it get them to focus and get out energy. The repetition helps them to follow directions. Speed it up and slow it down so that they have to focus on your voice.