Is Your Child Resisting? Try Singing!

Keener came home last week with this picture from school. His class was studying ‘germs’ and brought home this variation on Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to sing during hand washing. This of course made my wheels start turning about the connection between music and language.

Unfortunately, music is not something that comes naturally to me. If you asked me my favorite band, I wouldn’t know what to say. When I was cleaning out my closet from my childhood home the other week, I found Jessica Simpson, Ludacris, and John Mayer CDs from high school – enough said.

However, I find myself turning to music, specifically singing, when stress is heightened with my kids. When my babies (or now toddlers) cry, I find that softly singing often calms them down faster than talking alone. It’s also a strategy I taught Keener to use when he claims he “isn’t tired” at bedtime… That’s fine. You can just sing to yourself in your bed – which he does every night to help himself fall asleep. Everything from Jingle Bells and Happy Birthday to Old McDonald is belted out on the monitor; an evening ensemble I have grown rather attached to.

For Grace, having her nails cut causes a moment of stress. As a result, I started singing to her while I torture her with the nail clippers. One of the best songs is one I picked up from a colleague and friend at school. It is to the tune of “The Farmer and the Dell” and basically anything you want to say fits in the lyrics with “Hi-ho, did you know” for the chorus. i.e.

“Mama’s cutting your nails, Mama’s cutting your nails. Hi-ho, did you know, Mama’s cutting your nails.”

I also often use this to transition my kids from one location to another, “It’s time to go eat dinner… It’s time to take a bath… It’s time to put shoes on…”

Give it a try. Next time your little one is resisting, incorporate a song. It lightens the mood and hopefully leaves all parties feeling a little more calm and a little less chaotic.


  1. So agree about singing, Jenny! Reminds me of preschool days- 🎼please hold on to the railing, please hold on, to the railing….as we go downstairs”🎼. and “ it’s time to put the toys away, toys away, toys away….time to put the toys away….so we can go outside…” (etc.)

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