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“Music to Their Ears: How Pediatric Occupational Therapy Can Enhance Social Skills with Music and Movement”

November 1, 2023

Social skills are the tools we use to interact with others.  They are essential for a child’s overall well-being and success in life. Children with social skills difficulties can experience challenges in communicating, cooperating, and building relationships with peers and adults. Pediatric occupational therapy is a specialized field that addresses these challenges by using a range of therapeutic techniques, including music and movement. 

Understanding Social Skills Development in Children

Social skills development is a complex process that involves learning and applying a range of skills, including communication, empathy, self-regulation, and problem-solving. Children need to develop age-appropriate social skills to navigate social interactions and relationships effectively. Social skills deficits can lead to emotional and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, aggression, and social withdrawal.

The Role of Music and Movement in Pediatric Occupational Therapy

Music and movement activities are effective tools for promoting social skills development in children. These activities engage children in a fun and interactive way, while also providing opportunities for learning and practicing social skills. For example, playing musical instruments or dancing with peers can help children learn turn-taking, sharing, and cooperation. Singing songs or playing rhythm games can improve children’s communication and listening skills. Physical activities, such as jumping, hopping, or running, can help children regulate their emotions and behavior.

Research shows that music and movement activities can have a positive impact on children’s social skills development. A study published in the Journal of Music Therapy found that children and adolescents with social skills deficits who participated in a music therapy program showed significant improvements in social skills competence, compared to those who did not receive therapy.

Using Music and Movement at Home to Promote Social Skills

Parents can also incorporate music and movement activities into their daily routines to promote social skills development in their children. Here are some tips for using music and movement at home:

  • Play music and dance with your child: encourage your child to move their body to the rhythm of the music and take turns leading the dance.
  • Sing songs with your child and encourage them to sing along: use songs that have repetitive lyrics or actions to help your child learn and remember them.
  • Play musical instruments with your child: start with simple percussion instruments, such as drums or shakers, and encourage your child to take turns playing and listening
  • Use movement activities to regulate your child’s emotions and behavior: jumping jacks or running in place can help your child release excess energy and calm down.
  • Encourage your child to play with peers and siblings: use music and movement activities as a way to facilitate social interactions and cooperation.

Using music and movement at home can be a fun and effective way to promote social skills development in children. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some children may require more specialized intervention if they have significant social skills difficulties. If you’re concerned about your child’s social skills development, seek professional guidance from a pediatric occupational therapist or other healthcare provider.  


Music and movement are powerful tools and pediatric occupational therapists use these techniques to help children learn and practice social skills in a fun and engaging way. Parents can also incorporate music and movement activities into their daily routines to promote social skills development at home. If your child is struggling beyond what you’re able to provide at home, we can help you at Connect Pediatric Therapy.  Give us a call at 402-413-1356.  By working together, we can help your child build the social skills they need to succeed in life.  


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