Abstract

Background:

Responsive parenting style and synchronous parent-child interactions have a positive impact on children in terms of language, cognitive, and social-emotional development. Despite widely documented benefits of music therapy on parent-child interactions, empirical evidence for the effects of music therapy on parent-child synchrony is lacking.

Objective:

To examine effects of parent-child dyads’ participation in a six-week home-based music therapy program on parent response, child initiation, and parent-child synchrony, as well as parents’ daily use of musical activities with their child.

Methods:

Twenty-six parent-child dyads participated in this pretest-posttest within-subject single-group design study. Participating dyads included parents and their child with disabilities or developmental delays (ages 1–3 years inclusive). Parent-child dyads participated in a home-based music therapy program that included six weekly 40-minute sessions, and incorporated five responsive teaching strategies (i.e., affect, match, reciprocity, shared control, and contingency). Observational data were recorded for parent-child interactions and parent-child synchrony.

Results:

Parents’ positive physical and verbal responses, as well as children’s positive verbal initiations, increased significantly pre- to post-intervention; however, children’s positive physical initiations did not increase significantly. Parent-child synchrony also improved significantly pre- to post-intervention.

Conclusions:

Findings support the use of home-based music therapy programs to facilitate parent-child interactions in the areas of parental responsiveness and child-initiated communication, as well as parent-child synchrony.

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