Tag Archives: soothing

A surprising way to soothe your baby

Hello, tuned-in parents,

Today we’re going to talk about a technique that is used in music therapy called Vocal Holding. I think you’ll find that it is a nice alternative to purely consoling our babies with speech. And you might even find that it works better.

I had to use it just the other day.

We had received a new peeler in the mail and my daughter was excited to open the package as usual. Before I knew what was happening she got a surface cut on her finger. The site of blood and the surprise of the cut set her off and she started crying inconsolably.

I held her and – instead of empathizing with her through speech – I matched her sobs with the sound “ah.” I made my sound fit in the same phrase/length as hers and took in breaths at the same time.

Slowly, her cries tapered and we sat together silently. It was my way of acknowledging her pain and being available to her in a purely emotional – not intellectual – way.

Vocal holding is a technique developed by Dr. Diane Austin, who uses it to relieve adult trauma. It is an effective way to do psychotherapy that can be more emotional and less analytical than talk therapy.

The idea behind it is that the therapist uses her voice as a way to hold and support the client. In talk therapy, a patient might share something that is troubling at home. The therapist might reflect back to him what she said using other words or sometimes even the same words exactly.

The therapist might ask an open-ended question like, “How did that make you feel? Or in another instance the therapist might provide an intervention or an interpretation of what the patient is saying and feeling in order to help him advance and break out of old patterns.

Vocal holding does these things but with the voice.

When our children are upset about something they need us first of all to empathize and understand what they’re feeling. We can do this by telling them that we see they are upset, that we understand what happened, that we know it is hard to feel sad/ hurt / frustrated /etc.

But sometimes saying it is not enough. And when the crying continues it is often because our children need to continue to express their feelings. Our job is to allow space for that to happen.

In order for us to do that we need to feel okay with an expression of emotions. We need to not be scared of it rather welcome it.

In these situations vocal holding can be a great way to hold that space for our children. As you know, singing bypasses the intellect and comes from an emotional place.

How to try Vocal Holding:

  1. Match your child’s tone. If your child is upset, sing along in their exact melody and take breaths where they do.
  2. Take turns. If your child is not upset, this alternating method can feel like a vocal conversation with improvised sounds.
  3. Harmonize. If your baby is singing a repetitive melody, accompany them on an instrument with one or two simple chords.
  4. Sing in a lower tone. If your child is calm or upset, improvise using a resonant sound as if you are providing the foundation on which your baby can emote.

Next time your baby cries you might want to experiment with using this surprising way to soothe your baby to help her feel heard and understood.

Has your baby responded to musical soothing before? Did your upset baby love your humming or toddler want to hear a calming song?
Comment here so we can figure this out together.

Who in your life is open to new techniques?
Forward this to them so they can try vocal holding.

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What Hamilton teaches us about being with our babies

This week, Broadway is my inspiration for The Tuesday Tune-in.

Art can teach us a lot about relationships – even the ones we have with our babies.

Let’s take a moment to consider “Hamilton.”

Whether or not you’ve seen or heard the songs from this Tony award-winning musical, you can benefit from one lesson I’ve taken away from it:


Stop saying – and start singing – every word.

In other words – Talk less. Sing more 🙂

 

Ok, I’ll admit – like many people in the United States – my family knows every single word to the soundtrack. It’s an album that we can all agree on. And even now, years after it had its heyday in my home, it is always a reliable go-to on long car drives.

 

One of the things that makes Hamilton so unique is that it is almost entirely sung. When you listen to the soundtrack, you’re pretty much getting the entire show. And for those who were lucky enough to see it, it’s an amazing experience to see an entire story told without speaking.

 

It reminds me of when I had my first baby and all the books and blogs said to narrate what I was doing with my baby. This would help him develop language, they all agreed. The idea was that the more language the baby hears, the more they will pick up on the sounds, syncopation and structure.

 

I tried it for a bit but, I have to say, it always felt ridiculous.


But you know what did feel right? Singing it.

For example: Picking my baby up from the crib,

I could say:

“I’m picking you up now and we’re walking into the kitchen.”

Or

I could sing:

“Let’s go into the kitchen, let’s go into the kitchen let’s find something to eat.“

 

As you go about your day, narrate it. Let your baby in on your story, on your thoughts and feelings. BUT don’t just narrate in words. Put it into melody, rhyme and rhythm. The more you do that the more your baby will be listening.

You can even challenge yourself to rhyme at the end of sentences. Hell, take a page from “Hamilton” (and rap and hip-hop) and see if you can even rhyme in the middle of sentences.

Here’s some inspiration. The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s rhymes are so good they’ve been analyzed mathematically:

[HAMILTON]

“Thomas Jefferson, always hesitant with the President
Reticent—there isn’t a plan he doesn’t jettison
Madison, you’re mad as a hatter, son, take your medicine
Damn, you’re in worse shape than the national debt is in”
from “Cabinet Battle #1

 

And once you do it, you may find that it’s hard to stop. Here’s how Miranda felt about it:

“We found that if you start with our opening number, you can’t go back to speech. The ball is just thrown too high in the air.” (Mental Floss)
Once you start singing what you’re doing to your baby, it will feel incredibly natural. There are a few scientific and emotional reasons for this.

First of all, it turns out babies are much more interested in hearing us sing rather than speak, according to a study in “Infant Behavior and Development” (2004) They hold their gaze longer on the singer and even move their bodies less signaling that we are holding their attention.

The next reason is because it makes us more playful. When I did this with my baby I was organizing my words into repeatable and simpler phrases, which rolled off my tongue more easily. I’m sure that was much more relatable to my baby. It was definitely more interesting for me.

The third reason? it just made my baby and I a little happier. Suddenly we were smiling; we were bopping to whatever I was singing; and I was making myself giggle at the rhymes and the silly melodies that I was coming up with.

The creator of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda figured out how to hold the attention of the world with just this type of rhyme and silly melody. He figured out that if he brought us a show that had a strong rhythm to it, syncopation that made us move, intricate rhymes, and clever phrasing, then it would hold our attention. (It doesn’t hurt to have a fascinating story and a hugely talented cast either.).

With those tools, he managed to tell one of the most complicated stories ever told on stage with a soundtrack that is listened to over and over and over by all ages.

 

So I say: Let’s take a lesson from Hamilton.

Let’s learn how to be more engaged, more playful and more joyful.

And, along the way, let’s star in our own home-made musical.

 

 

Do you star in your own home-made musical? I want to hear about it! COMMENT in the comment box below and tell us how you do it.

What’s your favorite “Hamilton” song? Comment and let me know.

Know another “Hamilton” fan? Share this Tuesday Tune-In.

If they know all the lyrics like my kids, I can assure you they’ll appreciate this read. Forward along!

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Yes! Please send me more of the Tuesday Tune-In!

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One trick to feeling good about your singing

Hi, tuned-in moms and dads,

This week in the Tuesday Tune In, I want to offer you a strategy for feeling good about your singing voice especially when singing with your baby.

You might be surprised to hear: Whenever I sit down at the microphone to record vocals for an album, I have a mini freak-out. I’ve never thought of myself as a great singer. What I really wanted since I was a kid was to be able to sing like Mariah Carey or Beyonce or other singers who seemed to have endless flexibility in their vocals. I hope you’re not reading this thinking – “Oh please. She has a beautiful voice.”

Because that’s my point:
Everyone feels insecure when they sing. (Even those who make a career out of it.)

If you haven’t grown up singing in your home or with your family or friends, then it probably feels even more uncomfortable and scary.

So, I’m going to give you a strategy.

Here’s a method that I use when I’m singing at the mic. I’m hoping it will help you when you are singing to your baby. Because here’s the thing: Your baby wants to hear you sing. More than Paul McCartney, more than Aretha. Your baby wants to hear YOU.

The trick to STOP JUDGING and START LOVING your singing voice:

1. Relax your voice by taking in a deep breath before each phrase.

This is important because if your body tenses, then your voice will immediately feel constricted. Once that happens, our brains recognize the discord and we judge ourselves from the get-go.

2. Hear your voice as if it is coming from outside of you.

As you are singing try to hear your voice as if someone else is singing to you. This is the hard part and the incredible part. You might need to close your eyes as you do this but if you manage to do it, even for a minute, you may feel soothed by your own voice. Instead of judging it, you may enjoy it. This is because we are much less judgemental of others than we are of ourselves.

This technique is a bit easier in a group when you can focus on everyone else’s voice instead of your own. We do this alot in our classes. When shifting our focus to the voices around us we notice that our own voice tends to be more in pitch, more relaxed, and seems to find its place among the other voices in an effortless way.

I learned this while recording my albums. My biggest task in the studio was to get out of my own head. If I didn’t, I could feel my inner dialogue getting the best of me just a few words in. My voice felt and sounded constricted and didn’t seem to flow. If someone could’ve record my thoughts during those few words, they would probably have seen a quick moving list of comments – “You sound terrible,” “You shouldn’t be singing this song,” “That note was off,” “Your jaws is not relaxed,” “Sara Bareilles sounds much better” or, “No one will want to hear this.”.

That voice can be SO loud. And while we all have a version of it, some hear it louder than others.

I know this from years of doing classes and singing with parents. Many don’t feel comfortable singing in a group or, if they do, they will be sure to sing under their breath so no one can hear.

There’s a good reason for that. Singing is not like talking. Speaking often comes from an intellectual place. But singing bypasses our intellect and comes directly from an emotional place. That feels vulnerable no matter who you are.

But that is what makes singing so powerful.

Tonight as you are singing a lullaby to your baby, try it. It’s a mindfulness exercise and it’s not simple but it’s worth it. Why not let you AND your baby be soothed by your voice?

How comfortable are you with your voice?
Have you overcome insecurities while singng? How?
I want to hear!! Email and let me know.

So many parents in my groups feel insecure about singing. Your stories can help them overcome their anxiety.

Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend. The ones who sang at your wedding and the ones who won’t even karaoke. Forward away.

Love Vered

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5 Minutes That Will Change Your Day

Dearst parents,
I recently came across a way to get all the energetic upside of a gratitude practice AND all of the actionable results of a goal-setting practice. When I noticed the feel-good wave it gave me day to day, I knew this would be the first thought in my new Tuesday Tune-In blog series that I’d share with you.

It’s called The 5 Minute Journal and it’s the brainchild of self-experimenter and bestselling author Tim Ferriss (“The Four-Hour Work Week”).

I’ve woven it into my life since December and appreciate how simple it is. And for parents who may be sleep deprived – and are certainly time deprived – this is a perfect way to journal daily and check in with yourself in literally five minutes. Honestly, I can make it three minutes, so you can, too.

Notice my kids in the pic waiting patiently for me in the morning. I’ve trained them that this is two minutes of mommy time 🙂 And if your baby is too young to wait for you to do this then just know it is in your future!

The Five Minute Journal
In the morning, you write 3 (or more) points for each of these:

I am grateful for…
What would make today great?
Daily affirmations: I am…

In the evening you write 3 (or more) points for these:
Amazing things that happened today
How could I have made today even better?

I can attest: These little questions do a lot.

The question that struck me most was: What would make today great?

I’ve been surprised by the things I write here. They are often much smaller moments than I expected. And I feel empowered that they’re small enough that I can go ahead and try to make them happen the next day.

I urge you to go into this with curiosity – what are those things that would make your day truly great?

The evening follow-up –  What amazing things happened today?, might surprise you as well. Again, they might be big but they might be small.

Remember, it’s a few minutes and it’s truly worth it.

As it turns out, journaling is one of the top habits of successful people. (Oprah talks about hers here.) And a gratitude practice has been shown in Positive Psychology to improve our well-being, both long and short term. Just look to the empirical research in Robert A. Emmons and Cheryl A. Crumpler ‘s 2000 article “Gratitude as a human strength: Appraising the evidence” for the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, which he talks about here.

I know you are all busy – feeding babies, putting kids down, waking up early with kids and more. You may have NO TIME WHATSOEVER to journal. I totally get that. But in case you have just five minutes to try it, it might make your day great. Or amazing.

Did you get through this in 2 minutes or less? Reply and let me know.
I want to make sure that each weekly thought is useful to you – and not just one more lengthy article that you put aside for later. My goal is to make it short enough for you to digest it on the go. This way, you can take the ideas into your life with your baby and feel that much more present and joyful. Drop me a line here.

Love this Tuesday Tune-In? Share it with a mom friend or dad friend.
We all need a little love. Forward away.

Do you want to know everything there is to know about lullabies? Click here to download my new Easy Bedtime Lullaby Kit complete with a songwriting template, a playlist, and a gameplan to make your evenings easier for one and all.

See you next Tuesday,
Love Vered

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Article in Scary Mommy!

Hello dear parents!

How cool is this? Scary Mommy published my article about getting siblings to stop fighting. I’d love to hear what you think. Also, has the album been helping at all? My hope is that it helps to raise some awareness in your family as to dynamics, challenges, and just feeling like we are not alone.

“Usually the fights have to do with sharing. Sharing a toy, a friend, a cousin, a food. And they do want those things, but below the surface, that’s not really what they are fighting over. They are competing for the love and attention of us parents. They want to know – do you love me the most? Do you think I’m the most special of all your kids? Am I unique and special?”

https://www.scarymommy.com/how-i-got-my-kids-to-stop-fighting/

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