Dancing BabiesBefore social media, making friends and maintaining relationships involved more than clicking yes to a “Friend Request” or commenting on a status update. (Well, technically it still does.) To be a good friend, regardless of age, we need to share, use our “kind and polite words,” take turns, show empathy, listen, practice conflict resolution—essentially put into practice all those skills that make a good friend.

Dancing with babies form social bonds

Learning how to be a good friend takes practice and guidance. The first seven years of a child’s life present unique and lasting moments for laying the groundwork for healthy social development. Each week in our music classes, we provide many opportunities for children as young as newborns to practice cooperation, turn taking, active listening, paying attention, and other key social development skills that help children grow to be a socially confident and adept people.

Of course, we also dance, bounce to a steady beat, and move around in response to music a lot. Now new research indicates that all of that moving around together with young children positively affects their social behavior.

“Moving in sync with others is an important part of musical activities,” explains Laura Cirelli,  lead author of an upcoming article in the journal Developmental Science. “These effects show that movement is a fundamental part of music that affects social behavior from a very young age.”

In the study, the team worked with 68 babies to determine if bouncing to music with another person makes a baby more likely to help the other person following the musical activity. Dancing in pairs, one adult held a baby facing outward toward another adult. Both adults and the baby gently bounced to the music. Some of the babies bounced at the same tempo as the adult across from them while others bounced at a different tempo. Afterwards, the babies who bounced to music at the same tempo as both adults were more likely to pick up an object “accidently” dropped by the other adult when compared to the babies moving at a different tempo.

The research implies that when we sing, clap, bounce or dance to a steady beat to music with babies, these shared experiences of synchronous movement help form social bonds between us and our babies. Or, to put it simple: Babies can literally dance their way to friendship!

Peas & Carrots Kindermusik@HomeFind a local Kindermusik educator and experience for yourself how our music classes for babies, toddlers, preschools, big kids, and families teaches vital life skills, including learning how to be a friend. 

In the meantime, enjoy this free music and movement activity  from Kindermusik@Home. It will get you and your little one dancing in various ways together—supporting social skills and parent-child bonding.

Contributed by Lisa Camino Rowell, a freelance writer living in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

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