Emotional Coaching

Co-Regulation. It’s a new buzzword in parenting circles these days. But what does it mean?

First, it’s important to understand that emotional regulation cannot take place without an inner voice. Adults have their reactionary, automatic, lizard brain self. But we also have an inner-voice and can talk to ourselves. We can tell ourselves to calm down. We can tell ourselves to regulate our breathing. When we are triggered into lower brain states and are struggling to manage our anger, or our frustration, we have the capacity to employ skills of inner regulation.

Children lack that inner voice. Developmentally their brains just have not yet developed it. That inner voice comes with maturity and development, just like other cognitive skills, such as concrete thinking leads to abstract thinking. And because children lack an inner voice they cannot self-regulate when they are young. They need to be taught, yes. But beyond modeling and overt teaching, they need to be guided through the process. You need to become not just their parent, but their coach.

That’s what experts mean by co-regulation. Some emotions are just too big for a child’s nervous system to process. Big feelings lead to big tantrums, misbehavior, etc. We know that ALL behavior is COMMUNICATION. So if your child is losing it, it doesn’t mean that they are misbehaving. It means they are communicating that they need help regulating their big emotions.

So how do we do it? We become their emotion processing COACH.

First, get your own feelings under control. If your child’s actions are pushing your own buttons, you have to first calm yourself. Engage that S.T.A.R. breathing you’ve learned about in our classes. You cannot help a child level up the brain states without doing it yourself first.

Second, notice their feelings. Validate their feelings. Label their feelings. Most children lack the ability to express in words what is wrong. They don’t know. You can give them this voice.

Second, connect. Get down on their level so you can make non-threatening eye contact with them. Offer some gentle touch. Tell them that when they are ready you will be there to help them.

Some kids will fall into your arms immediately needing physical touch and assurance. Other kids need time and space before they will be able and willing to connect. So you just wait and let them know you’ll be there when they’re ready.

It’s all about empathy and connection. Regulate yourself to co-regulate your child, so they can learn the skills of self-regulation. When we try to connect with our children instead of control our children, their behavior and your relationship with them will improve.

CONNECTION

This is where it all starts.

The solution to all your parenting woes. The starting place to solving your relationship conflicts. The key to understanding and resolving your child’s behavioral problems.

Whenever you or your child is struggling, go back to basics. Go back to connection.

Research has shown that humans are not capable of being rational, of making good decisions, of getting along with others, of handling stress, or basically ANY executive functioning skills unless two basic needs are met first: SAFETY and CONNECTION.

When you are threatened, your brain goes into fight, flight, or freeze mode. Your conscious brain is hijacked by the hind brain as you seek safety. When you are in this “survival state” you can’t respond to stressful situations with grace or empathy. Nor can your children. Your brain and body asks “am I safe?” If the answer is no, that need must be met before you can move up to the next brain state.

Let’s say you feel safe and can calm your hind brain into understanding that you are not under threat. The next thing your brain asks is “Am I Loved?” If you are lacking connection with a loved one or a trusted friend, you will have trouble having patience and choosing positive behaviors. The same thing goes for your child. If your child feels disconnected from you, they won’t feel loved. They won’t feel safe. They won’t be able to listen to you and respond calmly. They won’t be able to make decisions, follow directions, or remain calm.

So what do you do when your hind brain hijacks you? What do you do when your screaming toddler gets red in the face and fluids drip down their face?

You meet the first two needs. First, remind yourself that you are safe. So what if some judgmental person at Target is watching your child’s melt down. Ignore them. Take a deep breath. Release some tension in your shoulders. Next, approach your child.

Get down on their level. This is a non-threatening approach. Some children will want to be touched. Some will not want to be touched, even by Mom. Try for eye contact. Tell them they are safe. Tell them they are loved. Tell them that when they are ready, you are there to help them.

This is called coregulation. Children simply do not have the executive functioning skills or inner voice that is needed for regulating their emotions. You have to co-regulate with them. Show them how it’s done. Calm yourself first. Then help them calm themselves. This is all accomplished through CONNECTION.

So the next time you see your child’s behavior taking a turn for the worse, remember that their behavior is communication. Their tantrum or resistance is telling you that they are slipping down from the higher brain state and need help to feel safe and to feel loved. Spend some time connecting with them. Slow down. Take a breath. Be present. Be playful. You’ve got this.

Welcome!


Welcome back! We are swinging into high gear here at Song of the Heart Studios! Our studio and hearts and hands are full as we transition into new schedules, new classes, new families, and new routines.

We hope you had a WONDERFUL first couple of weeks here at Song of the Heart. We know your children will love their educator, even if it takes them a few weeks to warm up. And we know that YOU will love the opportunity to slow down, connect, and engage in some JOYful music making with your little one each week.

To all of the newly enrolled families, welcome to our Heartie Tribe! We are so happy to count you among us and to share with you and your little one the joy and magic of Kindermusik. There is so much in store. Here at Song of the Heart we are WAY MORE than just a simple “Mommy & Me” class. Alongside all the engaging musical curriculum, you’ll be getting child development information, gentle parenting tips, and more!

And to all our returning families, welcome back! We are SO glad you’re here. And thank you for all the social media love! We delight in seeing your “First Day of Kindermusik” photos. How cute is this little one? We simply LOVE see your children grow through the years with us.

Ready, Set, Sing!

It’s that time of year again! There’s been a run on school supplies and the stores are wiped out. You can’t find a pencil case to save your life. There’s an excitement in the air for children as they return to school. There’s a nervousness in the air for the adults about the new Delta variant. Crossing guards, 20 mph school zones, and yellow busses slow down our morning commutes once more.

What does this mean for us at Song of the Heart Studios?

It means we have been working behind the scenes getting ready for a brand new season of joy and music making with you! Our summer break is anything but. We spend our break time dreaming up new ways to bring extra sparkle to your Kindermusik experience. We have been sprucing up the studio. We are brushing off our lesson plans and brushing up on our pedagogy skills. We’ve been learning about positive psychology and refocusing our attention on the details in a class that make the biggest impact for you. We are reviewing our Covid protocols to make sure that we are providing the safest possible environment for your families to continue to come and enjoy the Kindermusik experience during these crazy times.

Everything we do at Song of the Heart Studios is motivated by our love for music, our love for our Kindermusik families, and our deep belief that the answer to all of society’s problems is excellent early childhood education. When you invest in your child’s development at this age, their brains are wired in healthy ways that sets them on a trajectory for mental and social health and happiness. So thank you for doing not only what is best for your child, but what is best for the world. Thank you for letting us be a part of their childhood development.

We can’t wait for you to walk through our doors soon so we can watch your hearts sing and your children flourish!

Savoring Summer

Popsicles. Running through the sprinklers. Night games. Bathing suits and cut off jeans. Corn on the cob and watermelon. These are the most vivid memories for many adults as they reminisce about their childhood summers.

The summers of childhood have changed dramatically in the last generation. More and more children today spend their summers addicted to screens and computer games. Particularly in this era of Covid we rely on technology more than ever. It’s such a double edged sword as we are the first generation of parents raising children in a digitally dominant world. It’s easy to fall into the convenience of technology and forget to connect with nature and get ourselves and our children outdoors.

Now our long summer days are shortening incrementally with every sunset. The oppressive heat is starting to abate ever so slightly. The bad wildfire caused air quality is improving day by day. The back to school supplies hit the stores weeks ago. Our joy-packed Summermusik camps and classes have wrapped up. Many of us have spent our summer rushing from one activity to the next.

And while we may be looking forward to routines and cooler temperatures, we still have a little time to indulge our senses and renew our minds. Perhaps we can eek a bit more summer out of the next couple of weeks.

So go out into your backyard with fresh eyes. Hunt for the nectar gathering bees. Take your little one by the hand and run through the sprinkler. Take your shoes off and let the sensory input of the dirt, sand, and grass ground you.

Our Fall classes will be here before you know it. Reserve your spot if you haven’t yet in one of our two locations (South Jordan reopening for Fall 2021! Yay!) and rest easy in the final days of the season. Find a moment to breathe it all in, and love it all out.

Thank you for spending part of your summer with us. We loved every minute of it. We wish you well.

Summertime Singing

Summermusik is in full swing here at Song of the Heart Studios! Every day we sing, play, craft, dance, and build friendships. We make joyous music and movements as we imagine we are splashing in the water, hunting for bugs, or pretending we’re royalty. Some of our kids are learning keyboarding and rhythm skills. And all of our children are engaging their imagination!

Our summer classes and camps are like our regular Kindermusik classes, but EXTRA. Extra fun. Extra joy. They are a great way to maintain routine and ritual throughout the summer months, which is so important for children to feel grounded in their lives and to give them the predictability they need to feel secure. They don’t even realize the benefits of routine that come when they are having so much fun, but their caregivers sure do.

Child development experts and parents alike know that children thrive under routine and ritual. Many kids (and adults!) have struggled with the last year and a half of unpredictability, uncertainty, and ever-moving targets. That struggle can manifest in challenging behavior. It makes us appreciate the routines and rituals of Kindermusik more than ever before. Our continuing Kindermusik classes and Summer Camps for older children are the perfect way to maintain that sense of routine. And every class is jam-packed with moments of joy, connection, and learning, with an added punch of whimsy.

You can take the Kindermusik summer fun into your home and on your family vacation. Don’t forget to pack your Kindermusik cds for your road trip, or sing one of the splashy songs you’ve learned while giving your little one a bath.

What’s your favorite part of Summermusik?

Music = Essential

It’s easy to think of music as an “extra” when it comes to child development, learning, and education. After all, it’s not reading, writing, or ‘rithmetic. Nor is it STEM, or whatever buzzword acronym we are using in education these days. Except we, as music educators, and you, parents who prioritize musical learning, know better.

Musical education is brain education. Musical development is whole child development. It’s not extraneous. It’s not a perk for privileged kids. It should be for every child, in every home, and in every school. Music teaches language skills, mathematical skills, team building skills, social skills, motor skills, cognitive skills, and on and on.

Unfortunately we don’t live in a world where music education is widely understood or appreciated or it it wouldn’t be on the chopping block at so many under funded schools.

Consider this: we are more than a year into this pandemic. Many early childhood programs have shut down nationwide. Opportunities for your babies and children to safely socialize are few and far between. And yet young developing brains NEED stimulation and enrichment. As we’ve all been hunkered down at home for the last year there is an entire generation of children whose brains aren’t getting the development they need.

This is why Kindermusik is the PERFECT program to prioritize right now. Studies have proven that music is the only stimulus that lights up the ENTIRE brain. Our curriculum is carefully crafted to boost development in all domains: cognitive, language, social, emotional, and physical (both fine and gross motor). As we foster supportive environments to explore music in a rich sensory environment, your child’s brain and body development can make up for lost time and some of these developmental gaps.

Covid babies have become wary of others as they haven’t been properly socialized. Kindermusik classes can help with that.

Covid babies have had more screen time as their parents have been coping with unprecedented stress. Kindermusik classes get children and parents off their screens and engaged with each other and with the music.

Covid babies haven’t been able to climb on playgrounds and use those gross motor muscles. Kindermusik activities can help with that.

Covid babies may have been limited to one environment and have lacked the sensory stimulation that comes with novel environments, textures, toys, manipulatives, people, and sounds. Kindermusik helps with that.

Covid children have unprecedented levels of anxiety at earlier ages. Musical activities release dopamine and oxytocin and suppresses cortisol in the blood stream. Kindermusik can help with your child’s emotional well being as well.

We are so glad to have you here as part of our Song of Heart tribe. We know that by continuing to prioritize your child’s early musical education that it will be hugely beneficial to their physical, brain, and social development. Let’s make up for lost time and SING and PLAY and DANCE and MAKE MUSIC.

Who doesn’t want THAT for their little one?

Summer Evening Listening Walk

The school year has wound down. The pleasant days of summer are here. The weather has heated up and the Covid cases are low and we can emerge from our wintery cocoons. It is the perfect time for a special activity we like to call the Listening Walk. But first, an explanation about listening.

In our classes we nearly always include a focused listening activity. The children love this! It’s so fun to “get out our listening ears to listen, listen, listen” and rub our ears to ready for listening. This not only helps focus the children’s brains for listening, but rubbing the ears stimulates nerves that awaken the brain and send out “feel-good” endorphins. We could all use a little more of those happy brain chemicals, so rub rub rub those ears!

We set aside time every week for focused listening because we know how important it is for children to develop the skill of listening. We must help support that development. It aids in their cognitive development, their social and emotional development, and of course their musical development!

We take a simple sound and help your children prepare for listening, going through the physical steps of calming their body, focusing their mind, processing the sound, and then developing a socially and emotionally appropriate response to the sound.

One of the best parts of a focused listening activity is seeing their eyes light up as they try to figure out what the sound is. You can practically see the wheels in their brains turning!

A way to extend this activity is with the previously mentioned “listening walk”. This is particularly effective and fun with preschool aged children and older. You can of course go on a listening walk with your babies and toddlers as well, but it will require more modeling and labeling from the parents.

First, tell your child you’re going on a special walk. Not a normal walk. A listening walk. You’re going to be completely silent as you walk down the street and be detectives. You’re going to see if you can figure out what people, animals, and the environment in your neighborhood are doing simply by being still and listening.

Walk a few steps. Do you hear a lawnmower? Walk a few more steps. Do you hear some birds chirping? Maybe your hear the whirring of a hummingbird’s wings. Walk down the block some more. Do you hear the sound of your own feet hitting the sidewalk? What else can you hear? Do you hear splashing? Does it sound like people swimming in a backyard pool? Or perhaps it’s a dog walking through a puddle left behind by the sprinklers.

This is such a fun way to get your child to wake up their senses and explore the world around them. You’ll enjoy it too!

And just in case you miss storytime with Ms Maren, here’s a perfect story about going on a listening walk. Watch this video with your child and go out on a walk together. What did YOU hear on YOUR walk?

Congrats Grads!

It’s that time of year again! We are SO PROUD of our Kindermusik graduates. They have worked hard this year learning their instruments during a peculiar time. Some students learned online at home, others came to the classroom. It was very challenging learning with the hurdles they faced this year and they did amazing!

Last year we had a virtual graduation. We were so glad to be back in person for our graduation this year. It was distanced and different than in the past, but the one thing we’ve learned from this last year is to be flexible and adaptable.

We kicked things off with a Kindermusik Fiesta, including tacos, a sombrero dance, and a piñata.

Each graduate was able to share with the class and parents what their favorite part of Kindermusik was. It was wonderful to hear them each speak and they all looked so adorable in their purple mortar boards.

It is such an honor to be able to have been a part of your child’s early development. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts, for allowing us to foster a love and understanding of music in them. Now they are ready to SOAR in their future instrument studies. Come back and visit so we can watch them grow. We will miss you, Music Friends!

5 Ways to Stay Connected as Your Children Grow

A familiar scene: your toddler clings to you, unsure of this new Kindermusik classroom environment. Then they excitedly leave your arms to engage with the activities, only to return to you for reassurance. As you see your little one cling to you for security and then venture off to explore, only to return to you again, you will notice them learning to assert more and more independence. This is a good thing! But as we are all about CONNECTION here at Song of the Heart Studios, we know that a strong bond with your child is what will give them the confidence to spread their wings and soar.

Parenting guru and child development specialist and author Sarah Ockwell-Smith has so much wisdom for both new parents of young children and veteran parents of growing children who are claiming more independence. In a recent Instagram post she shares her top advice for staying connected to your child as they grow. Read her wise words:

The early years of parenting can feel stifling, your child’s intense need for you – day and night – can leave you desperate for some time away from them. Your worlds revolve around each other, closely tied in the same orbit, as if you and they were one being – extensions of each other. Their need and love for you so strong. As children get older, that orbit grows. The pull of the outside world ever increasing. Until one day, you realise you miss that tight knit connection and begin to mourn it, wondering if things will ever be the same again, but there are ways to keep a strong connection as your children grow.

Here are my top 5:

1. Accept the change in need for you. It may seem counterproductive, but the more you allow your child to break away from you now – by giving them freedom, the more likely they are to return to you in the future. Recognise you are their ‘safe base’, that they will always return to, but their job now is to explore the world away from you.

2. Always be there to support them. Waiting in the wings, unjudgementally, to listen and ‘hold’ them when they need it.

3. Rein in the punishments (especially exclusion based ones). If your children feel safe to express themselves and tell you about their mistakes, they are far more likely to be open with you as they grow. If they are raised with fear of retribution and exclusion, you will push them away.

4. Work on your own feelings. If your child’s growing independence leaves you feeling a hole, don’t expect them to fill it. Now is the time for you to rediscover who you are, learn new skills and develop new passions. Learn how to feel comfortable being ‘just you’ again.

5. Connect on their level – if they love video games, ask them to explain them to you and play together. If they love making Tik Tok dances, ask if they can teach you one.

And here at Song of the Heart Studios of course we recommend you maintaining an active role in their Kindermusik experience by helping your Little Music Maker engage with your at home materials, help them practice their Young Child instruments, and do our special sharing time activities. It not only enhances their (and your) musical experience but it also maintains and extends your special parent-child bond.