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Helping Kids Make Good Music Choices

What was your favorite song in high-school? The song you and your besties rocked out to in the car, or the one that played when you had your first kiss? What was your favorite song in college? In middle-school? Elementary? What song played at your wedding? WHY? What was happening to you during each of those stages that caused you to like and relate those songs?

We often associate specific songs with important moments or phases of our life. The soundtrack of our existence can help us recognize attitudes and emotions we were experiencing at any given time. Songs can transport us, like a musical time-machine.

Music holds an important place in humanity. It is known as the universal language of mankind. The part of our brain that processes emotions and controls how we perceive memories lights up when our ears perceive music. Blood flow increases and neurotransmitters trigger sensations of pleasure and well-being. According to Pfizer:

For millennia, humans have used music to soothe

our souls and comfort pain. Parents worldwide sing

lullabies to the young and mark special occasions

such as birthdays, graduations, and weddings with song.

We rely on music to help us power through workouts

and tackle tasks we’d rather ignore, and we manipulate

our moods with melodies.

Since music spurs brain activity that connects to emotions it can be a strong stimulus of positivity or negativity for our kids. Music can impact a child’s choices, beliefs, sentiment and reactions. As moms we are privileged to help our kiddos learn to make wise choices about music. We have the opportunity to guide them to develop a love for a variety of musical styles while they are young.

One way to help them make deliberate choices is to set an afternoon or evening aside to talk about music. Ask each person to come ready to play or sing their favorite song or music. If you can, make words to each of the songs with lyrics available. If anyone in the family plays an instrument or has a special musical talent, invite them to perform.

Before your musical night, prepare clips from various types of music, from peaceful to noisy, classical to rock. Put together a paper with names of the songs you have prepared and space to write or draw pictures.

When you gather your family, begin by asking everyone to listen to your brief selections and ask them all to make a note or draw a picture about how the music makes them feel. Give examples, such as:

  • Feel like running

  • Want to cry

  • Makes me smile

  • Want to dance

Talk about the songs as you go, or review them all at the end. Point out that music impacts our moods and emotions.

Next, bring up situations and ask them to come up with songs they’d want to listen to at that time and ask why them why they would choose that song. Example situations:

  • Sad because a friend has moved away

  • Celebrating a special day

  • Just won a trophy

  • First day at a new school

  • Watching a sunrise

  • Holding a baby

  • Angry at someone

Explain that the music they choose can reinforce their mood or change it. If they are celebrating and want to continue that happy feeling, choose an upbeat, feel-good song. If they are angry and want to get over that upsetting spirit they can choose something soothing. Express how music effects the place in the brain that helps us identify emotions and feeling, so the songs they choose have a powerful effect. Music can lift us up or pull us down. It is up to each of us to choose music that will help us progress, be productive and happy.

You might share a verse from the Bible. In I Samuel, 16, Saul has been over taken by an evil spirit, then,

“David took an harp, and played with his

hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well,

and the evil spirit departed from him.”

Ask your family what kinds of music they think might chase away a bad feeling. What kind of music could invite angry or sad feelings? What music can make you feel peaceful or or spiritually lifted? Remind your kids that music doesn’t have to be religious to uplift.

Now it is time to take turns playing or singing the music each of you chose to share. Discuss the message of each song. How does it make you feel? Are the music and the words inspiring? Heartening? Angering? Consider asking questions that lead each child to decide for himself whether or not the music is appropriate.

When it is your turn, play one of your favorite songs, a song that brings you joy. You might also share a song from your past, that you came to realize was not a song that you now think is appropriate and how you learned to make better choices.

(Obviously, make sure it is not too inappropriate) It is good for our kids to understand we have had similar struggles and have had to make choices and sacrifices to follow a principled path. As a family, lay out a set of standards for your music choices.

With your guidance, have each child set appropriate music guidelines for themselves. Ask your children to go through their music to see how it measures up. You might want to offer to purchase a certain amount of fitting music for them in exchange for removing all inappropriate music. Make sure you set the example by doing the same with your own music collections. Commend your children for their good choices.

Music has the power to bring you family closer together. Cultivate a musical disposition. Find times to play or create music as a soundtrack to daily activities. Memorize uplifting songs and sing them. Find musical events to attend. Encourage musical participation in school and individual activities. Let your home be a place where love and music ring out.

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