I turned to see my 4-year-old spinning around as fast as he could while whipping a stuffed Dalmatian along with him—undoubtedly just winding up to throw it.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” I started to protest, but it was too late. “Puppy dog” (as my kids so creatively named the Dalmatian) slipped out of my son’s little grip and went flying across the room—and smacked my 1-year-old in the face.
She was fine, of course. More stunned than anything else.
I felt frustrated with my son for playing too rough indoors, and muttered something about how he could have really hurt his little sister or broken something expensive (like the TV—gasp!).
But I quickly softened when I considered the circumstances that led to the dog-spinning incident:
A few days of cold, winter weather that limited outdoor play.
Hours spent hanging out in the same 2 rooms of the house, with the same old toys.
Pent-up little kid energy that just had to get OUT.
It was definitely time for mama to intervene.
So I did, with a strategy I always keep in my back pocket for moments like these—moments when the kids are experiencing that dangerous combination of being too cooped up and too wound up at the same time:
The Family Dance Party
“Ok, kids, let’s turn on the tunes and do a little dancing!” I exclaimed. Both the 4-year-old and the 1-year-old squealed with delight. They love our family dance parties.
Little do they know all the added benefits that come when they get their grooves on.
Benefits of Dancing for Kids
- The Physical: Dancing get kids’ hearts pounding and blood pumping, ultimately improving their cardiovascular health and stamina. It can also increase their physical strength and flexibility while also improving balance and coordination.
- The Cognitive: Dancing can help kids develop spatial awareness (important for those of us whose kids have a tendency to bump into everything and everyone!). What’s more, there’s actually a tie between dance and literacy; lots of kids learn language better when it’s connected to movement. Finally, dancing is a way for kids to explore their innate creativity and self-expression.
- The Emotional: The physical release of dancing can really help kids who are feeling stressed or overwhelmed. Additionally, dance provides a way for kids to fully experience and express their feelings—which is key to their long-term emotional well-being. Regular dancing also helps self-conscious kids feel more comfortable in their own skin, increasing their confidence and self-esteem. Plus it’s just plain fun, and all kids need to be having plenty of fun every day!
But wait, notice I said we have FAMILY dance parties, not KID ones. That means to get the maximum benefit, mom and dad need to break it down too!
Now, I love to dance—despite the fact that my talent in that area is marginal at best. So joining in with my kiddos comes naturally to me. But for those who might feel a little more inhibited, even around their immediate family, I point to these benefits for YOU.
Benefits of Dancing for Parents
- Dancing is essentially FUN EXERCISE, so when you have a family dance party you are also doing a workout with your children! And with that comes all sorts of goodies, like better heart health, stronger lungs, and assistance in reaching or maintaining a healthy-for-you weight.
- Dancing has been shown to reduce stress and increase energy—so it’s basically the panacea for us tired, stressed out parents.
- Even if you’re a terrible dancer—no, especially if you’re a terrible dancer—dancing is a great way to get in touch with your more playful, silly side…and show that side of yourself to your children, too. (Look, kids, I know I had a short fuse all morning, but I am still a FUN MOM!)
- If nothing else, kid dancing is adorable (and often hilarious), so family dance parties are sure to make you smile one way or the other.
10 Best Songs for a Family Dance Party
Ready to groove but not sure what song to play? Here are a few of our family’s favorites!
(Yes, I’m aware that this is a somewhat random compilation of songs for both children and adults, but when it comes to shaking our booties in the living room, we don’t discriminate.)
1. Dance in the Sun by Milkshake
2. Tiny Dinosaurs by Lunch Money
3. Show Me Your Happy by The Singing Lizard
4. Recess by Justin Roberts
5. Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake
6. Happy by Pharrell Williams
7. I’m a Believer by Smash Mouth
8. Firework by Katy Perry
9. We Go Together by the cast of Grease
10. Walkin’ on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves