The hustle and bustle of life can be exhausting for us all but for little ones, the daily grind can be utterly overwhelming. Whether it’s childcare, kindergarten or a babyccino at your local cafe, children are learning and absorbing new sights and sounds constantly. Their senses are going at full speed and at some point, may well become overloaded. Think tantrum, meltdown, or noncompliant behaviour. We’ve all been there.
So, what if calming them down was as simple as turning on some nature sounds? While it’s not the universal answer to a tantrum, it’s safe to say that music is medicinal and the familiar sounds of rain falling, a river rushing, or birds tweeting can reset a tired and overstimulated mind. And the best bit is, it’s free and easy to do.
We spoke with Sparkways Operations Manager (Early Learning Centres) Amy Carr about how their centres utilise music and nature tunes as a calmative tool.
“The ABC podcast Nature Track is just one of the many apps and soundtracks our educators turn to when children need some time to relax and restore,” says Amy.
“Research tells us these quiet nature sounds have the ability to not just help us appreciate our country’s beautiful soundscape – they can also help our children restore themselves to a place of calm,” she explains.
The healing effect of music on the human stress response has been found to lower cortisol (stress) levels and increase endorphins. In particular, the sounds of nature physically alter our brains’ connections, reducing our body’s natural fight or flight instinct (Scientific Reports, 2017). Essentially, the tranquil sounds of nature can calm the fight or flight response and redirect a child’s focus from external stimuli (such as light, noise or touch) and promote a heightened sense of relaxation.
It's easy to forget that children are learning and being challenged mentally from the moment they wake up. Their growing brains are processing new information and a bombardment of external stimuli all day long. Even when they’re playing, they are negotiating how to share, interact and respond appropriately. It’s a lot and at times, they just need a moment to recalibrate. By turning on some calming and restorative music, you’re giving them a much-needed chance to reset.
Obviously getting out into nature and experiencing environmental sounds firsthand offers a range of health benefits (for young and old) but for many of us, this isn’t something we can always achieve when juggling work and other responsibilities. Thankfully, there is a plethora of ways to access medicinal music digitally whether it’s on your smart phone, via a laptop or through your television.
Sparkways has provided us with a list of tracks and stories to turn on when you’re little one is feeling overwhelmed, exhausted, or just needs to wind down. Always remember to set the volume no higher than 60% of the maximum volume to protect little ears and get the most out of music’s sweet medicine.