Why Do Kids Like to Dance?

We have an instinct for dance as we unconsciously or absent-mindedly tap our feet to the beat. You might have already noticed your child move randomly when he/she hears upbeat music. In fact, this is one trait that separates us from most animals because this instinct for dance is reserved for us humans.

It’s our instinct and dancing is also pleasurable to both kids and adults. That’s because coordinated movements stimulate our brain’s reward centres. It even gets a lot better if there’s synchronising music that pleases both the ears and the brain. After all, music stimulates the orbitofrontal complex and ventral striatum (known reward areas in the brain). Moreover, music also activates a brain area involved in the timing and coordination of movement (the cerebellum, responsible for coordinating voluntary movements).

Why do kids like to dance?

It appears we are designed and wired to move and dance. It happens automatically even if we’re just listening to music. In addition, absent-mindedly we might be even making the smaller versions of movements being done by dancers we watch live or on TV. Our hands and feet automatically move to somehow sync with the dancers’ motions. Even if we’re just watching how the orchestra’s conductor move, our fingers try to emulate his/her movements.

This happens similarly to children and because dancing is an instinct, they were already born with it and although we’re not telling them to dance or they haven’t watched any dance video, they will automatically move and attempt to synchronise with the music. And when they watch a dance video or witness an actual dance, their mirror neurons automatically kick in (these get activated whether we perform the action or we’re just observing it). Because their own neurons get activated when watching someone else dance, they have that natural response to copy the movements.

To our children it gets more pleasurable because of our attention we give to them as we look delighted whenever they dance. This reinforces their instinct and likeness for dancing. Babies and children heavily rely on us adults to get what they need and as a result, it’s important for them to get our attention. Often, anything that makes us focus on them will be their regular actions.

Kids love to dance and if you want your child to get better, it might help to bring in some structure (e.g. enrolling them in a dance class). This way, he/she will learn the proper movements and better synchronise with the music. Also, your child’s energies will be put to better use as he/she practise, get more physically active and make new friends along the way.