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#1 Our kids need to see us have fun.
I don’t know about you, but I can be a bit…task oriented. It’s not a bad thing and don’t get me wrong, I can be SUPER silly, but the reality is on any given day, I’m juggling a LOT. Life can be stressful and overwhelming at times, but truly even with great optimism and intention, I know my face doesn’t always reflect the joy I want my kids to remember me having. I used to shame myself for not exuding contagious joy with a bubbly personality, but more and more I’ve realized that seizing these opportunities on purpose is not any less authentic than a spontaneous burst of laughter.
Plus turning on some music and going to town can make the perfect exit from my own inner funk. How do I know? Because that’s how this dance party thing first started at my house. I did it for me and they joined in, not because I like to dance, but because in frantic overwhelm, I decided to do something ridiculous to get on the other side. We were laughing hysterically in minutes and I took note. I want my children to remember me “big smile happy” even if I need to throw in some extra dance parties to make it happen.
#2 Dancing provides powerful sensory input that’s incredible for our kids physical and neurological development and well-being.
We learned in preschool that we have 5 senses, but what if I told you that we have at least seven? In addition to the popular five (sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing), we also have proprioceptive and vestibular senses. We know that jumping can make legs strong and that cardio is good for our hearts, but this type of sensory input is also good for our kids’ brains. Activating those proprioceptive and vestibular senses can help our kids develop, organize, regulate and thrive neurologically. This can translate to better emotional regulation, attention and mood, which in my world helps everything. This is also why good play breaks with strong physical exertion translate to stronger mental focus afterward. I’m not an expert by any means, but as a mom of a child with sensory processing disorder, I’ve learned amazing things about the type of sensory input dancing can provide. You can nerd out on more sensory information and activity ideas here, here, here and here.
#3 Dancing is a great way to worship God.
When it comes to worshiping God, I’m not big on dancing. I’m more of a raise-my-hands-or-sit-in-complete-silence kind of girl (at least at the moment), but that doesn’t mean my children will connect with God in the same way. For some of us, we go to churches that are more traditional in nature and there is so much value to be had in that culture, but for our wiggly ones who just crave to move their bodies, a dance party to upbeat praise music may be just the thing to give them permission to connect with God in their own way. I had no idea how much my kids would love this until we did this at home. This is one of the reasons I’m loving Sacred Pathways for Kids: 9 Ways to Guide Your Child Into Relationship with Jesus.
Each one of our kids are unique and have different temperaments. No temperament is better than another, but this resource has given me simple language to see the opportunities before me every day to help my children connect with God outside the box of how I might expect. Some of my best discoveries about my kids, the way they are uniquely wired and what makes them come alive have happened on accident. Sacred Pathways for Kids has been one huge epiphany for me as I’m realizing that some of the good things our family has stumbled into, we can actually explore on purpose. That’s a win. Provide me with simple ideas so that I don’t have to come up with a bunch of stuff on my own? Double win!
If you click here you can take a free quiz to figure out your child’s spiritual temperament, what that means to their personal faith journey and how you can encourage them right where they are. Although all of us dance at our unofficial dance parties, my two daughters are enthusiasts who thrive in exuberant worship. As a mom who desires to pass down a living faith in Christ to my kids and grand-kids, I’ve found Sacred Pathways for Kids to be super insightful and practical. I know you will love it too.
8 Hacks for a Successful Dance Party
And if you’re new to family dance parties, don’t worry. I’ve got you covered. These dance party tips will make a huge difference, whether it’s your first or 50th:
- Don’t project expectations about how EPIC this dance party is going to be. Just do it and lead with flexibility and your version of enthusiasm.
- Invite your kiddos to be involved in the process. My kids often enjoy picking songs, creating impromptu instruments, using scarves as streamers and even surprising me with a fresh outfit just for the occasion. That’s always fun. Either way, the key is NO PRESSURE.
- Experiment with music styles. Upbeat music if often the easiest entry point, but some kids prefer slower or softer music like one might do ballet, interpretive or even couples dancing with. Your kids may not have specific song requests but will likely be able to give you feedback on the style of music, whether through their words or level of participation. Our family’s go-to worship collections with the kids are Hillsong Kids, Family Seeds Worship and Bethel Kids. If you look on YouTube, some of the songs even have movements you can follow, which can be super fun to try.
- What about “secular” music? True story: my daughter requested the electric cha-cha slide as the last song of our dance party today. Obviously, we aren’t going to play music that’s tearing people down or with inappropriate lyrics but having fun to generic music can be an excellent way to communicate that our dance is really all about our hearts. Doing the electric slide with appreciation that God gave us a body to move and dance and have fun is like saying, “Thank you, God, for this amazing gift!”
- What if no one knows what to do?! Ninja parent strategy: Try animal and nature moves! Take turns calling out fun movements like stomping elephant, swaying tree, clapping seal or friendly cat. Another idea is doing a dance where everyone holds hands in a circle alternately going clockwise, counterclockwise, in and out. Simple and so much fun!
- CHEESE! You might want to double-think pulling out a camera. Depending on your kids, the presence of a camera may shut them down. I’ve found it best just to be present and participate with them. Sometimes they’ll actually request to be recorded, which we’ll happily do. Other times, we can tell they’re comfortable enough that we could get a clip or two. In that case, the kids almost always want to watch themselves later. If you’re concerned about them falling into a performance trap in worship, it’s okay to complement their moves or energy but also add something like “Wow, I love your freedom to worship. Just to think that there may be other people you get around and when they see your freedom in worship, they’ll feel brave to worship God in their own way too! And just to think God’s dancing like that over you too!” (see Zephaniah 3:17)
- Be super flexible about how long they’re into it. They may tucker out and want to do something else after a song or two. That’s totally cool. It’s just as important to end well as it is to start well. OR you may have kids that want to dance for 30 minutes! Mama, you probably have things to do. Stay engaged as long as you can. For me, throwing in some lunges and push ups when its going long helps me to keep “you need to be productive” thoughts at bay. But alas, if duty calls, just give your kids a hug, communicate your exit, and let them know you’ll be looking forward to next time.
- Smile about your dance party in hindsight. This could look like a simple comment tailored to the personality of your child. For my 10-year-old daughter, I might say, “Hey, thanks for the dance party earlier. Doing fun things with you puts a smile on my face! And I love to hear you sing!” To my 7-year-old boy, I’d say, “Man, I knew you had good moves, but geeezzz, I could barely keep up with you! I had so much fun.” And to my 3-year-old girly-girl, I’d say, “I loved dancing with you today. You looked like a princess, which you are to both God and me and Daddy!” However that looks for your family, finding a way to savor the memory in hindsight can create a momentum around trying new things as a family and plant powerful seeds in your family culture going forward.
What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Have you ever tried a dance party? What other fun things do you enjoy doing as a family?
Also here’s your link to grab your own copy of Sacred Pathways for Kids: 9 Ways to Guide Your Child into a Relationship with Jesus. Enjoy!