Children love music and movement. Music can be infectious and change the mood of any situation. I think the majority of parents can relate to falling under the spell of “Baby Shark, Do, Do, Do, Do!” (It’s already stuck in your head, huh?) I have to admit depending on the context, the sound of that song will either get me dancing or cause the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.
Music has the power to literally bring people together or drive them apart them. Think back to those parties or dances you might have attended as a teenager. The DJ could either get a party going with the right jam or divide the sea with a downer. The same scene can happen the second I get in the car with my kids. I know for sure that if Adele comes on we will all be belting out “Hello, from the other side!” Unfortunately, if anything 80s starts playing I know only two out of the three will start singing along and one frowny face will be staring at me through my rearview mirror. Over time I figured out ways to learn how to compromise the music selection with my children. Of course, this took a lot of work on my part to have them be a part of selecting music for playlists. One of my go-to rules is that as a group, the kids have two skips; meaning as a consensus they can decide to skip up to two songs. Once they’ve used all of their skips they have to stomach through mom’s music. It’s actually pretty funny to listen to their debate on whether or not to skip.
I sat down with each of my kids to develop their own playlist and I learned a lot about their personalities. Everytime they chose a song I wasn’t sure about I asked them, “What is it about this song that you like?” Their answers were genuine. My son told me he liked Marky Mark’s, “Good Vibrations” because he remembered he was the actor from Transformers 4 and 5. My younger daughter picked out a lot Creedence Clearwater Revival, surprisingly because, “. . .these songs remind you of Grandpa.” A little background information, my father passed away almost 8 years ago and she’s been paying attention to every time a song reminded me of him. I didn’t know all this time she was thinking about my feelings for grieving whenever she heard those songs. My eldest daughter tended to choose songs that were showcased in commercials from Target, like songs by Meghan Trainor. It was in these small conversations about songs that I learned a little more about how my kids respond to music.
I started to use conversations about music to model for my children ways to understand each other. Instead of me feeling like I needed to referee the song choice, I would guide them in starting dialogue about music. For example, the children no longer bark out, “Change it! I don’t like this song!” Now they start to ask each other, “Evie, why do you like this song?” From there they learn a little more about each other and develop some compassion for one’s preferences in music. Subsequently, they allow themselves more patience to appreciate a variety of music genres.
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