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Transition songs: The Power of Musical Persuasion

Transition songs: The Power of Musical Persuasion

Transition songs have become one of my favorite parenting tools when getting my daughter to more easily move from one activity to the next. Case in point, our recent trip to the mall: As we wrapped up our search for some post-holiday steals at an upscale department store, my daughter discovered the bedding department. She …

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Transition songs have become one of my favorite parenting tools when getting my daughter to more easily move from one activity to the next. Case in point, our recent trip to the mall: As we wrapped up our search for some post-holiday steals at an upscale department store, my daughter discovered the bedding department. She climbed up the side of a queen size bed and lay herself squarely in the center of the down comforter, mounds of blankets, and squishy pillows – all luxuriously soft and all varying shades of white (the girl’s got taste). As soon as I announced it was time to head home, my daughter’s protest began to echo throughout the store. I froze. What to do? I quickly ran through my options: drag her out screaming (not ideal), let her stay in the bed (maybe she’d want to leave eventually), or sing a transition song (bingo!). I bent over and softly sang in her ear “Goodbye, bed. Goodbye, bed. Goodbye, bed. We’re glad you came to play!” Instantly she jumped into my arms and we happily exited the store – heads held high. Phew.

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Kindergarten and preschool teachers have been using this technique for ages, but my first introduction to transition songs was in a new moms class that I took when my daughter was three months old. Over the coming months I integrated just a couple songs into our routine: a song for diaper changes, brushing teeth, cleaning up, and sleep times. The power of a few simple songs have showed their effectiveness time and time again: Our established nap and bedtime songs have allowed sleep to come quickly and peacefully, at home, in the car, or on vacation. She will often stop mid-activity to come have her diaper changed when she hears our familiar tune. Singing “goodbye” to anything and everything (inanimate objects like beds included) has been beneficial in helping my daughter to part more easily.

While I’m not 100% certain that my melodic singing voice has cast some sort of trance upon my daughter (though my husband assures that it hasn’t), undoubtedly we have gotten through some situations that could have been pretty dicey with the simplest of songs. It’s not always easy to burst into song when battling the emotions and independence of a toddler, but I’m always glad that I did.

Do you have any techniques that have helped your child(ren) move through the day more easily?

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