How To Monitor Your Child's Music Listening

Worried about the music your kids are listening to? Here are a few suggestions that can help you get a handle on monitoring their favorites.

Kids are universally drawn to the power and beauty of music. From infants' lullabies to teenagers' rap, music plays an important role in the development of a child's tastes and preferences.

But if you are concerned that the music your child listens to is inappropriate or even misleading, you may want to follow these suggestions to monitor the lyrics that may be influencing your kids.

1. Don't assume it's automatically bad. Just because your child enjoys loud, upbeat (or offbeat) songs, their music may not necessarily reflect destructive values. Give the music (and your child) a chance as you observe its impact on your offspring's beliefs and behavior.



2. Watch and listen. If you feel yourself becoming irritated or concerned by your child's music tastes, calm down. Note how often he or she actually listens to music in comparison to other activities. Also determine if there is a blend of styles or primarily one. When you get a sense of the role that music plays in your child's life, you will have a starting point for measuring its influence.

3. Share the experience. Ask your son or daughter to turn up the volume (unless it already is loud) so that you can hear the song, too. Listen carefully to the lyrics as well as the feeling behind the beat and accompanying tones. You may want to listen several times you get a good feel for or understanding of the song.

4. Ask questions. Rather than criticize or accuse the musicians of a specific, bad motive, ask your child about his or her thoughts:

"What do you like about this song?"

"How do you relate to the words?"

"Do you think most listeners take them literally?"

"What other songs do you like? Why?"

"What do you know about the person who wrote or performed this song? What do you admire about his or her life?"

Questions like these invite your child to critically analyze his or her reasons for enjoying this type of music. Perhaps they will come to some insight on their own without a parent's telling them what to think.

5. Keep an eye on peer pressure. If your child's friends have less supervision than your son or daughter, they may be able to listen to music that you feel is inappropriate for your child. If you overhear offensive lyrics, be firm but gentle in explaining to visitors that the music is not permitted in your home. Don't embarrass the guest, but rather make the statement in a matter of fact way, and if asked, be prepared to state why.

6. Offer substitutes. Play background dinner or homework music. Listen to folk, country, clean rap, contemporary, alternative, or a host of other types to find something that is suitable for the entire family. While you may never come to enjoy the kids' music preferences, nor they, yours, all of you may be able to find common ground in other types of music.

Kids appreciate clear guidelines. But they also need opportunities to explore new styles on their own. Be prepared to confirm boundaries and be willing to exchange views with your child as they experiment with musical styles that you may find discordant.

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