What to do if your child hates singing

Have you got a child who hates singing?

Before my son was three years old he would cover his ears and shout at me ‘Stop!” whenever I sang. This is not because I am a bad singer (I truly believe everyone can sing anyway) and to be honest I’m not really sure why he hated it so much.

Perhaps it was the processing of sound that he found difficult or the pitch he found irritation with? Whatever it was, it was highly embarrassing as a music teacher specialising in singing!

So what if you have a child like mine? A child that hates singing.

Just because my son put his hands over his ears and shouted ‘stop’ doesn’t mean he wasn’t listening. It is amazing what children absorb even when we think they aren’t listening. Even when they are running around they are still listening to what is going on around them.

What can I do?

Don’t give up! Drip feed songs by making them a game.

This was especially effective with my son whilst out and about. Trying to get my son to walk when he doesn’t want to is difficult.

A song I love to use is Yo Ho! This is a great sea-shanty / pirate song where you can pull each other along as you walk. Walking up the hill to school I would sing this and pull him from behind me to in front of me (on the Yo Ho) as if pulling an anchor. He found this to be great fun! It wasn’t long before he had caught the song and was singing it with me.

In my opinion the best songs that are the ones that can be repeated without the feeling of being repeated. Walking in the rain is one of these songs. It definitley helps a long walking journey become less laborious with a troublesome toddler! You can repeat this song over and over whilst you are moving (the movement is key) making sure you pretend (or really) jump in puddles. Make big loud splashes and small quiet ones too. Sing the song in a quiet voice, sing it in a loud voice. I promise you children don’t even realise they are singing because they are having so much fun!

Let’s take a walk is another fantastic moving song. What I love about this song, is the ability to get creative. Bath time is another great time to catch children unaware of you actually singing. Use this song and change the words. ‘Let’s get a wash’, let’s scrub your face’, ‘let’s have a splash’ are just three ideas off the top of my head. Let your child think of some, I am sure they will. The more you sing it the more you will find your child’s creativity develops as well. Bath time is a lovely time to bond together whilst having fun creating your own songs. Remember you can also be silly!

Wrapping my son in a towel, he loves a cuddle. I find he actually will listen to me singing Hey Ho. Although he’s a little heavier and bigger these days he still likes to be swung. With babies and young toddlers try laying them in a towel or blanket and with a partner swing them from side to side. There is something very comforting about being swung gently like this. I expect it is like being in a hammock!

Picking the best times for singing does depend on what your child likes doing. If they like building use Let’s take a walk and sing ‘Let’s build a house’ for example. Maybe your child loves drawing or playing with a ball. You can use Roll the Ball change it to Bounce a ball.

The great news is my son no longer hates singing. He sings all the time. His favourite songs are Scooby Doo, Happy Birthday and Jingle Bells. He does sing all the other songs too. What is most noticeable is that he sings clearly, confidently, in tune and with enjoyment. He also loves making up his own songs. Finally he has been asking for the CD I made of me singing all of the songs mentioned above and more like them!

There are so many ways you can incorporate singing into everyday tasks without your child even knowing you are singing! Be persistent. Keep singing. Hopefully you will win them around like I did. Singing is such a joyful experience, builds confidence, self-esteem, creativity, language. Maths and social skills.

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