Singing while driving – does it help or hinder calming children?

On the way
Singing while driving – does it help or hinder calming children?
It takes approx. 4 minutes to read this article

When traveling, children get bored. One of the most popular ways to keep toddlers entertained while driving is by singing. Does music in the car help calm children?

A long car trip is a big challenge for children and their parents. Immobilized in the car seat toddlers quickly become bored and irritated. The problem concerns both babies and toddlers. What to do to relieve their stress and make the journey more pleasant? A proven way is to sing to the children. But is it really a golden mean to calm children during the trip?

Singing toddlers and scientific research

Singing is one of the most effective ways to calm children. This is confirmed by the results of an experiment conducted by researchers from the Canadian University of Montreal on a group of 30 children aged from 7 to 10 months. The study consisted in playing toddlers a song in Turkish, as well as a recording in which an adult spoke in this language (Turkish was a language completely foreign to the child). During the session, the toddlers were isolated from other stimuli – tactile, visual and auditory. The researchers measured the time it took for the first signs of stress and dissatisfaction to appear on the child’s face. The results showed that toddlers stayed calm twice as long when listening to a song than when listening to speech. The salutary role of music for the development of a young child is also confirmed by a study conducted on premature babies. Babies in incubators who listened to singing ate more, gained weight faster and were discharged from hospital faster than babies who were not sung to at the same time

Song and its role

Singing has been a familiar way to soothe young children for centuries. After all, the ritual of humming or singing lullabies to help little ones fall asleep has been known in many cultures. The repetitive theme, rhythm, and melody of a song is a very important factor in relieving stress and tension. While listening to a song, toddlers relax, loosen up and calm down. They also develop their imagination and learn to concentrate and listen carefully. Researchers have shown that parent’s singing lowers blood pressure in stressed children. They also suspect that it has a positive effect on the development of neural connections in the brain, which are responsible for speech and sight, among other things. The effect is an increased learning potential – toddlers familiar with music learn to speak, read and write faster. A toddler who has frequent contact with music also learns motor skills more efficiently

From a CD or “live”?

Parents who don’t like or can’t sing often prefer to play a song from a CD or a telephone rather than give their child a demonstration of their own vocal skills. Playing music while driving is certainly a better way to calm the child than travelling in silence, but it is no substitute for live singing. Vocal talent of the parent doesn’t matter much here. Children are used to the voice of mom and dad – their calm, rhythmical and melodious voice gives the toddlers a sense of security, peace and closeness, which they need a lot in stressful situations. Singing to toddlers – or in the case of older children, “performing” together in the car – will therefore work much better than listening to recordings from a CD player.

Car repertoire

What songs should be sung to children in the car? Preferably songs that everyone knows. Both the parents’ favorite songs and popular children’s hits known to kids from kindergarten or television will work here. It is important that they are rhythmical and melodious, and at the same time easy to perform, so that children can join in their singing. Parents who are less musical may, of course, use an appropriate accompaniment played from a CD or a telephone. To this end, prepare a CD of well-known and popular songs in advance

Music and singing allow you to better control and tame the emotions of toddlers during the trip. This is a great way to make long hours in the car pass in a pleasant and stress-free atmosphere.


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