Good Night to Lullabies: don't stop singing
You probably have a favorite lullaby or maybe a fond memory of a loved one singing to you, maybe in a graceful soprano or a perhaps just a broken shower tune. However, a recent study out of the United Kingdom shows that millennials, people who reached adulthood in the early 21st century or were born between roughly 1980 and 1995, just don’t sing to their children as much anymore. The study of 2,000 U.K. adults showed that of the 38% that did sing to their kids, aged five and under, 70% of those people were 45 or older.
While this is just one study and more evidence is needed to draw any conclusions from it, science has already shown that lullabies can help a developing brain in a number of ways. Another study carried out a few years ago by Great Ormond Street Hospital in London on babies undergoing heart surgery showed that singing lullabies can assist with the healing process. The study found that babies who were sung to before their surgeries were soothed, calmer, had decreased anxiety, lower heart rates before surgery, and even reduced pain after. The simple rhyme schemes, basic rhythms, and the repetitive nature of lullabies can also help with language development, as well as reading and listening skills. The time spent together has also been shown to increase bonding and emotional attachment with parents and caregivers.
Music is an important part of the Montessori method where “children learn with music, learn about music, and learn by music”. (Sarah Burns) Ear training with Montessori bells, musical literacy, singing, listening, and playing musical instruments are all important parts of the Montessori experience and lullabies can be a great at-home introduction to almost all of these concepts.
While the study didn’t go into why millennial parents aren’t singing to their kids as frequently, there are several theories. Perhaps parents are just too tired or frustrated after working multiple jobs or side gigs to sing anything. Maybe they think old lullabies are boring, passé, or just plain weird and don't fit into the aesthetic of modern parenthood. Both child and parent technology and screen time could be getting in the way of this unique parent-child bonding or it could be stage fright or nervousness over a less than stellar singing voice (especially in a culture increasingly focused on and able to crop out, airbrush, and filter our way to perfection). Regardless of the reason, science shows that everyone benefits from more one-on-one time and a little “Rock-a-bye Baby” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” maybe even a “Baby Shark”. Tonight try incorporating an old favorite into your routine, adapting songs from a favorite show, or start a family tradition and make up something entirely new that can be passed down for generations.