How Music Therapy Can Help Four Year-Olds Meet their Milestones

Music therapy can encourage children to grow up in more ways than one

Music therapy is remarkable in its ability to serve as an effective intervention for a variety of issues, ranging from medical to psychological. Along with treating conditions, music therapy can also promote wellbeing and development. Young children can benefit from music, as it helps them reach their developmental benchmarks.

There are developmental benchmarks that determine what a typical child’s skill set should look like. At age four, the world can appear as a complex and hard-to-understand place. But the typical developmental milestones for age four can help make things a little easier to understand and navigate. Read more about how music and its multifaceted effects can promote four-year-olds’ development in the areas of: 

  • Social and emotional skills
  • Language
  • Cognition
  • Physical Movement
Two young girls holding hands as they  explore a grassy field.
Music therapy activities can encourage social skills in 4 year-olds. Image courtesy of

Social and Emotional

Music therapy can help four year-old children meet the social and emotional development goals for their age group. The benchmark development goals include being able to mimic family and friends, learn to take turns while playing games, understand the concept of possession, and express a considerable range of emotions. 

Music therapy provides an outlet for social communication and makes it powerful in helping children to fine-tune these types of abilities. Actions such as playing an instrument and prompting the child to do the same can help children to understand how to mirror other’s actions. Group music therapy activities can teach children to share with others, and wait their turn. By having access to their own individual instruments ,children can understand what is “mine” vs “yours” or “theirs.” These musical interventions encourage an understanding of social cues. 

The universality of music as a form of emotional expression makes it easier for children to share their feelings and reactions to events. Expressive barriers such as speaking or vocabulary can be overcome with musical activities like playing instruments or identifying music that matches their mood. 

Two young girls look closely at their writing assignment placed on their school desk.
The skills involved in language and communication can be made easier to understand for 4 year-olds through music therapy. Image courtesy of

Language and Communication

The development benchmarks for language and communication can be more easily achieved with the help of music therapy. Goals for this age group include understanding simple instructions, naming most familiar objects and places, comprehending use of plurals and preposition words, and recalling basic identifying information about themselves. 

The rhythms and sounds of music are able to communicate across most language barriers, which is beneficial for child development. Music stimulates the areas of the brain associated with language and reasoning. Therefore, activities like turning instructions (or common nouns) into repetitive, catchy songs help children to remember and recall words. Similar song activities can also help children to absorb grammar rules and important information.

Four year-olds tend to enjoy simplistic lyrics that instruct them to do something. Nursery rhymes are a great example of how these songs can aid in child development. Definite, consistent beats further help the songs to be uncomplicated and easier to memorize.

A young boy sits on the ground of a park and plays with his toy car.
Music therapy can promote development of the cognitive skills needed for four year-olds to use common toys. Image courtesy of


Music therapy can promote development of cognitive abilities in four year-old children, helping them meet the childhood milestone goals for their age. A typical child in this age group should be able to work multi-part toys, reenact make-believe scenarios, and understand the concept of two things being separate and individual from each other. 

The effects of music on the brain can be far-reaching and remarkable, making it a perfect intervention for child development. Music combined with other stimuli like images or objects stimulate the association cortex in the brain. This relationship between music and the brain can help children memorize pertinent information or functioning of an object. Instructive songs can help children understand how to use complex, moving toys, such as toy cars or an interactive playset. The concepts and instructional lyrics can help children to understand aspects of real life and mimic it, such as playing pretend with others. These types of learning songs can also teach children important learning concepts, such as distinguishing between multiple things and singular things. 

Simplistic and easy-to-remember songs are effective tools for aiding in child cognitive development. Music can help children develop reasoning skills for both concrete and creative concepts. 

Four year-olds can gain a better understanding of their body’s physical movement abilities through music therapy. Image courtesy of

Physical Movement

Music therapy has been shown to have notable effects on various parts of the body, making it an ideal intervention for promoting children's physical movements. One of the most notable physical movement goals for four year-old children includes running easily.  

The rhythms and beats of music often make children want to move around and dance if they enjoy the songs. Therefore, music therapy activities involving dancing are ideal for promoting physical movement development. Simple beats and catchy lyrics are enough to make kids want to dance away their energy. Dance activities that mimic specific physical movements can improve children’s comprehension of their physical abilities. Songs with dancing instructions in the lyrics are the most effective for four year-olds to work on their physical abilities, since it makes it easier for them to memorize and associate the lyrics with certain movements. 

Music therapy is an effective intervention tool for promoting childhood development skills. Music activities can allow children to have fun, while also improving their own skill sets. Four year-olds can meet and conquer their age milestones with the help of music therapy.

Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 21, 2021

Cristal Thomas
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