Catchy Toddler Tune or Tantrum Save?

It didn't take long for my son who was 14 months old at the time, to take to a song we learned in our parent/toddler class – “Slippery Fish.”  The excitement on his face every week when the teacher would bring out the felt sea creatures was adorable.  He was beginning to remember the order of the animals as they appeared in the song.  And when he put his hands to his cheeks during the “Oh No!” part – my heart nearly burst out of my chest.  I felt so proud!! 

Outside of the classroom it didn’t take too long for me to realize that when he waved his hands up and down he was acting out the octopus and letting me know he wanted to sing “Slippery Fish” – over and over again, and again and again!!  Pretty soon it was the only song he wanted to hear – and while he lit up and laughed every time we sang it, I was developing my own strong feelings for the song…not so happy feelings. 

Then I realized that this little ditty could be more than just a wonderful developmental song for my son – it could come in handy in other types of situations.  You can relate with:

  • a melt-down in the backseat of the car during a long drive – just start singing the song and he’s a new baby!
  • a haircut to a 15 month old…not always an easy task…until “Slippery Fish” enters the picture.  
  • Having a tough time getting through the market with your tired and hungry 18 month old?  “Slippery Fish” saves the day again!  

Of course there are times when singing the ditty probably isn't appropriate…in the middle of big sisters big performance or during church service perhaps.  

After speaking to some other mom friends of mine I've come to realize that others have experienced this wonderful distraction with other songs, “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “5 Little Monkeys” and “Old McDonald” are other toddler tantrum saves and mommy faves!!   Apparently this is not a new revelation – but still a valid one! 

Music is so important for children’s development.  Children thrive in so many aspects when music is a part of their lives.  The repetitiveness of songs can help them learn counting and their name.  Singing songs in a group encourages social development by learning how to participate in a group setting.  The actions that are associated with many songs promote physical movement and discovery of body parts.  Music also helps in developing toddler’s speaking skills.  In just a few short months I watched my son grow in all of these aspects with the help of music!  Social/Emotional, Physical, Thinking and Language/Literacy development are focused on in this article from the National Association for the Education of the Young Child, Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle: Using Music with Infants and Toddlers

In addition, music is important for parent development…in patience!  When music teaches a child about his or her emotions, soothes them in a frustrated moment or distracts them in the middle of a meltdown – it helps mommy and daddy.  It’s a win, win all around!  I found this article very reaffirming of my feelings about music in my children’s lives.

So whether its “Slippery Fish” or “Patty Cake” one thing I've learned is that while my son is growing through music – those songs are making me Happy and I Know It!!