How do I keep my child from listening to music I find inappropriate?

How do I keep my child from listening to music I find inappropriate?

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Monitor your children's music the same way you supervise their use of television, videos, and the Internet. Developmental psychologists and other researchers who study the effect of media on children have found that parents who are involved in all their children's media choices have a great impact on taming its potentially destructive effects, such as encouraging aggressive behavior and reinforcing negative stereotypes about women and men. Luckily, as parents of young children, you are likely to be involved in buying the tapes or CDs, or borrowing them from the library, so music choices should be easy to monitor. But there are other ways you can maintain control:

  • Stay involved. Listen to your child's music choices with him. If you find something objectionable, clearly explain in specifics why you're concerned so that he begins to understand that you're not just being mean; you have valid reasons — and particular values — you'd like him to understand and adopt. Also, don't make the mistake of dismissing your child to his room to listen in private to music you don't like: The more privacy he has, the less control and awareness you have.
  • Make sure the rules apply to everyone. One way that young children are often exposed to music that may not be appropriate for their ears is through older siblings (and parents). If you don't want your 6-year-old listening to music that offends you, you probably don't want your older kids listening to it, either.
  • Share your favorite selections with your child — and make an effort to appreciate his music. Whether it's Miles Davis, Tom Petty, or the operas of Richard Wagner, make a point of playing your music in your child's presence — and show your enthusiasm. Of course, you'll also have to listen to the occasional Raffi, Veggie Tales, or Britney Spears CD, but fair is fair. Encouraging your child to explore different kinds of music is likely to benefit him in many ways. In fact, our research shows that children whose parents introduce them to, and encourage them to listen to, a variety of music do better in school.

Ultimately, your challenge is to teach your child to be a critical listener: You want him to filter out the junk on his own so that you don't have to.

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