You can chalk it up to shyness, fear or strangers, sleepiness, fill in the blank. How disappointing that we can't share those moments with others! The truth is that our kids, like us, feel uncomfortable being put on the spot. Their acts of expression are in essence, self-fulfilling. That is to say, they are not meant for others to marvel at, but bi-products of a healthy development.
Your child’s reaction to musical stimulation is as natural to them as chewing their food. But imagine if we made a scene about every bite they took at the dinner table, every time they played with their toys or banged a stick on the ground! So much praise for music - something that feels so natural, and yet at the same time nonchalance for other things equally as natural, must be terribly confusing for our little ones. Instead of the intended message that we wish to send to them, “I love your music making”, it sends the message “you are doing something unnatural and remarkable, something that I won’t reciprocate, and I want to watch you do it so I can judge you”. Their look of skepticism can be translated into “why, what is wrong with me”?
So, okay, we’re all guilty of asking our children to perform against their will. It is just so cute to see them get down and funky in front of God and everybody. But why is it so cute? It’s cute because we all know how it feels to let loose, but as adults we don’t have the social permission to follow suit. Our children are being expressive in a way that we feel we would like to, but are adhering to the social restraints that come with adulthood. We aren’t allowed to. We are shy.
When children dance, the rhythm seems to come from inside of them and take over their entire bodies. The primal joy that our kids experience when reacting to music is infectious. It brings smiles to the faces of thousands of people; countless videos on Youtube are of children’s instinctual reaction to music. We love it! We love the natural effect that music has on the body!
Often in class I catch the eye of the proud parent whose child is dancing shamelessly in the middle of the circle. Of course they are proud! Who doesn’t want to be the star of the show? But I caution that parent against trying to capture that moment or ask their child to reproduce it.
Instead I encourage parents to let the spontaneous surge of that moment lift their own spirits, let their children’s joy inspire them to come out of their shells and join them in unabashed self expression. How much joy can you find in your own self? How much freedom can you cultivate in your own body’s movement?
That’s right, the more you push, the more they pull. Our children are learning from experimenting freely. Help them by showing them that their experimentation is okay! We all want our children be musical, and you have all taken that step by enrolling in a class for guided musical enrichment through play. The learning happens naturally when we let them explore without expectations or restraint. If you love something… let it be!