Our voices have the power to create a sense of safety in our children, using a strategy called ‘Parentese’.
Parentese is that voice we use when we speak to new babies (and cute animals) and is characterised by:
- a slightly higher pitch
- a whispery voice (lullaby voice, not rockstar voice)
- minimal words but much repetition
- exaggerated and connected facial expressions
- sustained length of words
- a slow pace
- melodic inflections
Parentese tells our children’s brain that they are safe. And speaking it will have the same impact on us!
Lullaby Voice is my own musical take on what is known as Parentese.
Parentese refers to that dialect we use when we speak to babies, and cute kittens and puppies. That voice that all humans, all around the world use, and even our toddlers use Parentese when they speak to other babies.⠀ ⠀
It is characterised by using the same few words over and over, in a slightly higher pitch than our usual tone, with a whispery edge to it (hence lullaby voice, not rock star voice!). It also involves much facial expression, animation and body language. Remember when your child was a newborn, you’d look them in the eyes gently saying and speak a single affectionate word over and over again? That is Parentese.
And science has shown us that Parentese helps our children experience a feeling of safety and connection to their caregiver. It makes sense then that becoming aware of how we use our voice, and implementing moments of Parentese in the way we speak to our children, offers consistent opportunities for their brain to respond with a sense of safety in response to our voice.⠀ ⠀
Of course, this strategy needs to be used within the context of your own manner, and how your children respond. For example, if you were to use lullaby voice with your teenager all day long, they would soon have enough!⠀ ⠀
Moments of lullaby voice throughout the day, when your child is upset, unsettled, anxious or emotionally overwhelmed are helpful. And to use your voice in this way consciously even when your child is content is a great way of maintaining a sense of regulation.
Of course, as well as using your speaking voice strategically, the act of actually singing to your child in lullaby voice is always beneficial, for both them and you! Xx
Find out more ways to support your brain by downloading the “12 pillars of Braincare” here (it’s free) https://www.allisondavies.com.au/brain-care-ebook/