Media sources, such as radio, TV, and the Internet, are gaining a stronger foothold in all of our lives. In fact, teens today spend about two and a half hours each day listening to music on their laptops, smartphones, and tablets. With unlimited access to billions of songs, young people can easily stumble upon new artists and styles of music, some of which you may not think are appropriate for your child’s age or level of emotional development. For example, 1 in 3 popular songs now contain references to using drugs or alcohol. Violent and sexually explicit lyrics are another huge problem.
There is so much in our children’s environment that we can’t control. However, by laying a little groundwork, we can exert some influence our children’s musical tastes. Read on for tips on how to have a say, even if it’s just a small one, in what music you children listen to.
Focus on Variety
One way to help your child develop a deep appreciation for all styles of music is to expose them to different genres as early as possible. For very young children, you should choose songs that feature prominent instruments, such as piano and guitar. To encourage your children to immerse themselves in the musical experience rather than just listen to the songs and sing along with them, you should purchase inexpensive replica instruments that they can “play” as an accompaniment the recording.
Having a diverse musical library that includes everything from classical to rock and roll will inevitably lead your child to be curious about other musical genres. A large collection also allows children to challenge themselves musically and teaches them to pick out various rhythms, keys, and tones within songs from an early age.
Don’t forget to show your kids how music affects you. When an oldie-but-goodie comes on the radio, don’t be shy—go ahead and belt it out. Your kids may not ever really like Pink Floyd, but they will come to realize that all types of music can bring people joy.
Talk to Your Child
Communication is an important part of influencing what your child listens to. Start by initiating a conversation with your child allowing him or her to explain to you why he or she listens to his or her favorite music. It's important to let your child know that not only are you looking out for his or her best interests, but you also value his or her opinion.
When having this discussion, avoid negativity and outright criticism of your child’s music, even if deep down you disapprove. If the lyrical content of the songs is a point of contention for you, try to focus on the parts of the music that you can appreciate. For example, if the music itself stirs certain emotions in your child or encourages him or her to become more physically active because of the song’s upbeat tempo, be sure to let your child know this. Unfortunately, the more you voice your disapproval of your child’s music, the more he or she will likely gravitate towards it.
By remaining objective and actively listening, you can show your child that you are truly hearing him or her with regard to his or her musical tastes. You may still wish to censor what your child listens to, but he or she will be more inclined to follow your rules than rebel if you approach the situation with an open mind.
Closely Monitor Your Child
Although many music educators do not believe in the concept of “too much music,” it is still up to parents to decide what their children may listen to. For younger children, it can be easier to purchase all of their music for them and carefully control what they have access to, but monitoring the listening habits of older children and teens can be a little more complicated.
Some parents may find it necessary to sit nearby, giving their input on which songs are acceptable and which ones they consider inappropriate as their child makes musical selections for his or her MP3 player. Doing this can encourage the child to make positive choices while remaining aware that a parent is monitoring him or her.
Giving your child a little bit of freedom to select his or her own music will ultimately help you and your child develop a rapport while giving him or her a sense of independence. It's important that parents keep in mind that occasionally listening to hip-hop or rock music has not been shown to have any significant impact on your child's long term development. Simply listening to a few songs will not usually turn into an obsession with a particular genre; therefore, it is important that you aren’t overly strict regarding your child’s musical selections.