Music and Milestones

How Music Therapy Can Help Your Two Year Old Get To Where They Need To Be

Music therapy is such a versatile tool. From mental health concerns to coping with chronic illness, its practice can make a huge difference for those who seek it out. 

Music therapy has always been known to heal, but what else can it do? Turns out, it has the power to help little humans stay on track with their development. Here’s how music therapy helps kids in their terrible twos get to those terrific threes.

mother teaching daughter piano to reach milestones
Nursery-rhyme songs like “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” are a right of passage for babies and toddlers alike. Besides being an adorable way to entertain our little ones, it also serves a functional purpose. Keep reading to learn why! Image courtesy of Tatiana Syrikova via Pexels.

Little Minds, Big Development

The first few years of a child’s life are crucial. Everything they take in from year zero to toddlerhood helps shape their personhood--often in the most adorable way. 

Most parents remember the excitement in hearing their child’s first word, watching them take their first step, and even the first time they pick up their little head. Of course, these behaviors aren’t learned in that order. That’s because there is a natural progression of milestones most children meet.

Some factors may alter the timeliness of a child’s growth, like having bilingual parents. But still, most learned behaviors and social cues should be demonstrated by a certain age.

Here’s a breakdown of what healthy two-year-olds look like.

Physical and Motor Skills

They say chasing around a two-year-old is exhausting for a reason. By this age, little tikes have graduated past walking. Don’t be surprised if your new toddler starts finding a need for speed--this stage of development is all about play and adventure! Climbing furniture/stairs and throwing things is all part of the deal. Remember, children at this age have just spent most of their time being carried around by others. It’s time to see what they can do!

Language and Communication

Here, pointing is the preferred mode of communication. Two-year-olds can convey their wants and needs but don’t expect them to create cohesive sentences just yet. Their vocabulary is continuously building, but their word count in conversation ranges from two to four-word phrases. That’s not all, though. Kids at this age are word sponges, often repeating what they hear. This is where parents usually start to be mindful of their choice of words around the house. 

Learning, Thinking, and Problem-Solving 

It’s magical to see the lights turn on for the first time. At two, children really begin to understand the world around them. They might start finishing phrases they know in their favorite books, identify shapes and colors, and even begin playing make-believe games. This can be incredibly exciting for parents. They were previously only able to do things for their little ones. And now, they can start to enjoy doing things with them too.

Mom sharing music with toddler
It’s never too early to share the magic of music with a child. Whether it’s in a casual or formal setting, there are so many benefits to it. Even just listening together can do wonders! Besides, who doesn’t love watching their favorite little human flail to some tunes? Image courtesy of Yan via Pexels.

The Music-Mind Connection

It’s no secret that music is a full-body experience. And as we know, every bodily experience starts and ends with the brain. So what does that mean on a physical level?

The effect of music on the brain is unique because it stimulates many areas at once. 

Here are a few examples:

Are you the kind of person who likes listening to music while they study? Maybe you enjoy creating catchy tunes to recall information. Well, there may be a reason for that. When listening to music, the area of the brain responsible for memory retention and retrieval is activated.  

But music does more than aiding in remembering important information--it makes us well-rounded. You may have been told at one time or another that you’re more left-brained (logical) or right-brained (creative). When we listen to or practice music, all sides of the brain are activated. In fact, the left and right brain communicate with each other. Few other things light up our minds the same way.

Speaking of lighting up the mind, we’ve all had that burst of energy when listening to our favorite songs. We might sing along or even get up and dance. It can be so healing emotionally, but it goes further. Music connects to the part of our brains that controls motor skills. It’s even been known to help keep these skills in those who suffer from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Imagine what it can do to build them!

toddler using music therapy to hit milestones
There’s a reason why parents put their children in music classes and circles early on. It has so many benefits. Not only can it keep a child on track with their peers, but even help give them a head start when it comes to development. Image courtesy of iStock.

Music Therapy For Your Two-Year-Old

Most parents agree that it’s never too early to start introducing music to their child. Usually, this takes the form of nursery rhymes and piano lessons. These are great options, with lots of benefits to boast, but what if we do you one better?

Music therapy is different from music education because it can be tailored specifically to your child’s goals. Since the early years are so formative, it’s essential to set our little ones up for success--and that means keeping up with their growth goals. 

For kiddos in their second year, music therapy can help them achieve many of their milestones. Many music therapists are well-versed in early childhood development and can tailor treatment to a child’s age and parental goals. 

This could mean following instructions, copying adults/other children, and learning shapes and colors--but that’s just a few! 

Our little ones deserve the best chance at success, so why not give it to them? Music therapy is a fun, unique way of integrating learning with joy. No matter where your child is at, they’ll be further along because of it. Give it a try! You’ll be glad you did.

Edited by Cara Jernigan on January 19, 2021

Brooke Barash
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