Emotional Regulation in Children through Music



Music is one of the many channels where emotions are expressed. But how emotions are conveyed in music is less researched than emotions in speech prosody. However, the expression of emotion in prosody and music are related evolutionarily. Authors have linked the evolution of music with the evolution of primitive affective vocalizations.


Although the true evolutionary origins of music cannot be known, both speech and music have the ability to represent and elicit emotions. Children undergoing development have been found to be able to regulate their emotions through music.


Learn feelings through music


Music and play are effective ways for children to learn about and explore their feelings. Adults often get emotionally charged by music but so do children. It allows children to express their emotions and learn music to cope with life challenges as they grow up.


Different types of music can help children to listen and learn what certain feelings sound like. They can also learn to understand the types of emotions that are evoked by a piece of music. Improvising with music helps a developing child learn to get in touch with and to express his or her own emotions. Music instruments are tools to allow children to learn to express themselves at a young age. Through expressing themselves, they also learn the types of emotions they are experiencing.


Relieving stress through music


Although we picture the life of a child as carefree and stressless, the truth is, children are getting more stressed than ever. The stress level in children has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic where we have seen lockdowns preventing developing children from social interactions and learning facial expressions with their peers. The feelings of stress and anxiety can be addressed through music, especially for young children still unable to articulate their emotions.


Playing musical instruments can distract children from current stress and allows them to explore their emotions. It also helps to keep them focused and to reduce mind wandering. Mind-wandering always causes negativity in the mind according to research by Harvard University.


Learning empathy through music


Learning musical instruments with others also helps to improve children’s social and emotional skills. They learn emotions expressed by their peers. By learning music together, they also learn to develop empathy with others through teamwork. Research has found that children are able to tune into others’ emotions when they play music together – whether it is simple rhythms to a larger group performance.


Music is a simple way to help children learn to express and label emotions. It is also fun and every child likes to be engaged in it. It is a healthy way to teach and learn emotions through social interactions. It can also help to develop a child’s character and develop emotionally. Encouraging children to make up lyrics through simple words can help them learn about their feelings and how to overcome them through music.


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