Music to Tame The Savage Beast


Last night the little man was in prime form.

It’s funny when you can connect behavior to things you have read – it a reminds me of how normal life really is.  Tonight, he was Max from Where the Wild Things Are; just when Max yelled at his mom “I’ll eat you up!”.  That was our evening.

There was nothing I could do to calm him.  If I had a magic wand, maybe. But since I didn’t – I spoke in my sweetest, calmest, nicest not screeching harpy voice. You know the one I use to convey how much I love him and how I would so like him to try to be a little more gentle? The one that doesn’t reveal at all how I really feel?  I tried not to threaten – well not too much. Brushing his teeth was on the menu and this was not happening without some pressure.

Finally, FINALLY, I turned to something I know very well. I turned to music. I have heard experts say, “don’t rely on music, playing music all the time is not good for a child’s mind.” Seriously?

How about this, I’m an expert. I am a product of being raised with music. I come from a multi-generational family of musicians.  Growing up there was always music, from opera to pop musicals, from classical to rock.  You name it, someone played it.  Music became an intrinsic part of me.  Something, that through my life would be a constant grounding force.  A place of peace, a way to forget the world and find my happiness.

Naturally, to calm my mischievous little man, I turned to music. (OK not naturally, I tried other stuff that didn’t work because I was too much of  dumbhead to think of music first). This is not a post about Pandora, I just want to say – I am so in love with Pandora.  With very little searching for just the right type of music – I found Classical Music To Study By.  The results were amazing.  Not immediate mind you, it was a gradual change, gradual, but perceptible.  It was the impetus to wind down.

The beauty of my method is you need no knowledge of classical music to successfully attempt this with your own “Wild Child”.  When we finally made it to bed for a story, my boy asked if we could turn the music up just a bit so he could hear it better. And as he elbowed me, 3 or 4 times trying to get comfortable, he was quick to apologize. He was solicitous and caring, he was sweet, and best of all…..he was mellow. Music had tamed my savage beast, and when it was time for lights out – close our eyes, he said, “Mommy, can you please keep the music on?”  “Of course I will honey.”  What do those experts know anyway?


As an aside: Here’s a little tidbit.  I love Maurice Sendak, because he could not be put into a box.  He did not consider himself a children’s author, he considered himself an author.  He said other people decided his books were for children.  This quote resonates with me so much I wanted to share it with all of you:

“Certainly we want to protect our children from new and painful experiences that are beyond their emotional comprehension and that intensify anxiety; and to a point we can prevent premature exposure to such experiences. That is obvious. But what is just as obvious — and what is too often overlooked — is the fact that from their earliest years children live on familiar terms with disrupting emotions, fear and anxiety are an intrinsic part of their everyday lives, they continually cope with frustrations as best they can. And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming Wild Things.” ― Maurice Sendak


This has been a Finish the Sentence Friday, “If I Had a Magic Wand” brought to you by the most faboo:

Kristi from Finding Ninee

Stephanie from Mommy, For Real

Janine from Confessions of a Mommyaholic

Kate from Can I Get Another Bottle of Whine

  • Hi Thanks for sharing this on the Sunday Parenting Party, I am pinning to our pinterest board and featuring it this week on my SPP post (you are welcome to grab an “I was featured” badge from my button pageReplyCancel

  • I’ll definitely check out Classical Music to Study by. Thanks for sharing on Waldorf Wednesday. Hope to see you back this week!

    • Thank you! This week I shared my post “Is he knitting yet”. I hope you check it out!ReplyCancel

  • I will say this music definitely has a calming effect on me very often, too. I know this afternoon when I was in a bit of a mood I put on sone Elton John and it literally washed away so much of my anxiety. So, I could totally see this and thank you so much Jen for linking this up with us!!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thanks Janine! It does the same for me… Steely Dan, I’m listening right now 🙂ReplyCancel

  • The pictures and the transformation are marvellous. Music is life – why would you ever turn it OFF for him! Well done that mama 😀ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Thanks Lizzi! He’s great fodder for film.ReplyCancel

  • You have such great instincts, and I loved that post. Those experts can stick it- as a music therapist, I consider myself to be an expert, and that story is the perfect illustration of what music can do. DUH- why do I so often forget to apply it to my own children during chaotic evenings?!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Stephanie you of course are Brilliant! So it must be brain fever that keeps you from remembering!ReplyCancel

  • Music-an undeniable magic wand!ReplyCancel

  • Once again, we are on the same page Jen. And if music playing all the time is not good for a child’s mind, then that explains a lot where I’m concerned. lol But seriously, music is the stuff of the soul. It’s important at every stage of life and if it calms the little ones, I say go for it. If it’s on a lot – so much the better.

    And I love Maurice Sendak. So do my kids. His work is deliciously unique.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Of course we agree Linda 🙂ReplyCancel

  • What nutcase said that listening to music isn’t good for kids? I’m with you–I think it not only calms and soothes them, it can also motivate, energize, and inspire them.

    Both my kids (now 19 and 31) were raised with copious amounts of music–all kinds of music, from rock to jazz to classical to African–and so far they haven’t become homicidal maniacs or slobbering zombies. I’ll let you know if that changes, though. 🙂

    Love this post, and I’ve read the Sendak quote before, but it’s one of my favourites.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Yeah Karen, keep me posted. Until then, I’ll keep on keeping on!ReplyCancel

  • I so adore this post. Look, if constant music isn’t good for kids, I’m destined to be the world’s shittiest mom. Because as soon as that sucker in the womb they are getting some tunage directed at them! Ha, experts. I’d like to ask an expert who their favorite band is. Then I would judge them based on that answer……like I do the entire world.ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      You totally crack me up! And I agree! What is their favorite band I wonder?ReplyCancel

  • You are the expert on your own child, and clearly you know more than those talking heads. Music has tamed many a savage beast!ReplyCancel

  • “I’ll eat you up I love you so!!!!”
    I LOVE that book.
    Experts can be so stupid, I mean really. Who are THEY to say what’s right, especially if it works!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Of course you love that book, because you are such a great nanny 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I say moms are are always the foremost experts on their kids. I love music and I love that you tried something out of the box and it worked! I love Maurice Sendak, too! 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Then it’s a mutual love fest Lisa!ReplyCancel

  • I love that quote. And I think using music to calm your wild beast is genius. Experts are dumb. Way dumb. They’re just people who have opinions, just like we do. Mommy is ALWAYS right.ReplyCancel

  • You know, I love music but it’s never occurred to me to use it to tame my own wild beast. Definitely going to put this tip in my back pocket and pull it out instead of my hair.ReplyCancel

  • Ah – I tried to check it out and, sadly, we don’t get Pandora in Canada 🙁 As for music – I live my life with a musical background (singing in my head, dancing around every now and again) can’t imagine otherwise. My kids have been going to sleep to mobiles and music since they were days old. It’s calming. My eldest already has musical preferences (sadly Nicki Minaj and Barbie Pop Star feature prominently – but who am I to judge…) and both already love to dance about the house. Every now and again we have a regular wild rumpus over here 😉ReplyCancel

  • What a sweet post about a mama who knows her stuff!! Great job!ReplyCancel

  • Wow, I can’t believe people have said that about music. Video games and TV, I’ve heard it, but music? Crazy. I might have to try some classical music to calm my beasts – especially at bedtime. Crap – they’re out of control. Maybe I’ll even try it right now! Ha!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      LOL. Mine is still awake (10pm) asking for midnight kisses, every 5. Maybe I need to follow my own advice right now!ReplyCancel

  • I know I can’t go to sleep at night without our “sleepy time” mix, so why should I expect the kids to do the same? Experts are too confusing – play music for the babies in the womb, too much music is bad, candy can hurt them. Oh, that last one may be true. You know I love music, and I would tell you, “rock on, mama!”ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      Why thank you Miss! You know I tell the boy not to eat candy and then eat his candy when he’s not looking.ReplyCancel

  • Playing music all the time is not good for a child’s mind? Oh then my kids are doomed… they listen to music all night long and go turn it on when they are playing in their rooms.ReplyCancel

  • Jen, I love that we both wrote about Where the Wild Things are for this post! Music can have such a calming effect on our children… and us, for that matter!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      I’ve got to go read your post!ReplyCancel

  • Music works wonders for my son, as well, but it has to be something he likes, or that drives him crazy, too. I remember when my son was a baby, we’d put on Frank Sinatra and that ALWAYS helped him fall asleep (thank you, Frank)! Now, it’s Jim Brickman. We always had music on in the house when I was growing up, and I listen to it pretty much all day now. As far as I’m concerned, ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!ReplyCancel

    • Jennifer Kehl

      You know Jessica, I didn’t mention that, but there is music that drives mine crazy too! There are also times he specifically asks for quiet.ReplyCancel

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