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How Music Therapy Eases Anxiety in Children

The pandemic continues to be a difficult time for everyone. However, no one has been more affected than our kids. WTTW reports that on-and-off school closures and lockdowns — usually caused by sudden increases in COVID-19 cases — mean Chicago's kids are experiencing mental health problems. And this is an issue that many parents across the country are worried about. Recent data on the impact of online education found that 59% of parents were concerned about their children’s emotional well-being. Even health professionals in LA are getting worried. “As a psychologist here at the Children’s Hospital, we’ve been seeing such a heightened need for behavioral health sufferers, especially with our teens and young adults," clinical psychologist Whitney Brammer told the LA Times in their 2021 piece Youth Mental Health Crisis. One of the issues these parents are worried about is anxiety. Apart from all these circumstances caused by COVID-19, in children can be exacerbated by normal kid stuff, like being bullied at school and experiencing problems at home. Ultimately, parents and other caretakers can resolve these issues by helping kids understand and control their negative emotions. Music therapy, which involves the evidence-based use of music intervention to reach certain therapeutic goals is a particularly effective technique that's geared for kids. Here's how music therapy can ease your kids' anxiety and help them better cope with both the pandemic and its aftermath.

It brings out their natural love for music

It's no secret that people have an innate love for music. In fact, we're one of the only species with a unique response to music, with different musical patterns evoking different emotions within us. Music thus keeps kids attentive — this 2020 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience even found that music therapy is more engaging than video games. This makes it easier for musical therapists to connect with kids and help ease their anxiety, all while keeping them entertained.

It relaxes the mind

Music therapy directly targets anxiety — which is characterized by excessive fear or worry — by helping kids relax mentally. Soothing music like that in the classical genre or music that has an upbeat tempo can evoke positive imagery that kids can associate with positive emotions. When creating music themselves, such as through playing an instrument or composing songs, kids are given an outlet to express their feelings. This can increase their understanding of their emotions and teach them how to more productively manage them.

It can improve kids' physical wellbeing

Anxiety can also manifest physically in kids through sweating, shakiness, fidgeting, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, hyperventilation or other difficulties in breathing, and even gastrointestinal problems such as loss of appetite and nausea. Music therapy can help with this by establishing a rhythm or beat to guide more relaxed breathing, as well as reducing muscle tension. In 2019, Dutch researchers further revealed that music interventions specifically lowered blood pressure and helped the body release hormones associated with stress relief.

It helps kids socialize

Social isolation is just one of the causes of anxiety that are linked to both pandemic measures and school-related experiences. Fortunately, music therapy inherently promotes kids to communicate and socialize more with both musical therapists and other peers in their group. Here at Harmonic Changes, even parents can join in with our recently launched Harmonic Sprouts parent-child bonding program. This features activities like sing-alongs, instrumental jamming sessions, and simply listening to music together — all of which are communal experiences that can help ease feelings of loneliness, as well as symptoms of both anxiety and depression.

It's universally effective

Finally, music therapy is accessible to kids from all walks of life. Those with a busy schedule, who need to stay at home, or who live far away from the nearest music therapy provider can tune into sessions via teleconference. Our Harmonic Sprouts program is just one of the many we offer in both LA and Chicago that can be accessed for free through telehealth platforms. Meanwhile, music therapy can be just as effective for kids with disabilities or illnesses. Whether your kid experiences behavioral disorders or is part of the autism spectrum, music therapy will tap into that natural love for music, provide opportunities for increased socialization with others, and help them better understand and express their emotions. If you've been looking for ways to give your child positive experiences that can ease their anxiety, you should definitely consider music therapy's engaging activities and holistic benefits. It's definitely a great way to improve your kid's wellbeing and help them power through the impact these uncertain times have on both our LA and Chicago communities.

Written exclusively for

by Alicia Carlson

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