A survey has revealed that it is possible to influence your child’s music tastes, but you have to hit a specific window or you might miss your chance completely. Even though we’d all like our kids to form their own personality and seek out their passions, there are only so many times you can listen to the Trolls soundtrack on a long car journey. Here’s how you can move them away from Mr Tumble and on to something more palatable.
The Good News For Influencing Children’s Music Tastes
According to Dr Hauke Egermann of the University of York, children are most open to their parent’s music between the ages of eight and ten. It’s the sweet spot where they are open-minded when it comes to parental suggestions and they can appreciate lyrics and musical hooks.
Dr Egermann even goes so far as to say that it is important for parents to help their children build their fledgling tastes at this age. “By playing children a variety of genres before this critical period, research on familiarisation suggests they will enjoy lots of different types of music as adults,” he said. Apparently liking a wide range of music is great for stabilising their emotions and helping them socialise in the future. Who knew subjecting my daughter to 90s Britpop anthems was so beneficial?
He also spoke of the positive effects on bonding between parent and child. Similar music tastes brings shared memories and experiences. His report highlighted the joys of attending gigs together, one of which is that you don’t have to try and keep yourself entertained whilst waiting in the car for the show to kick out so you can provide a free taxi service. Thanks to my dad for performing this important task twenty-odd years ago, by the way.
Another survey backs up his findings. Music streaming firm Deezer asked parents about this very topic and around 80% reported that they’d had some success in passing on their favourite tunes before their kids turned ten.
The Bad News For Influencing Children’s Music Tastes
Unfortunately, according to both Dr Egermann and the Deezer parents, after they turn ten, you’re unlikely to get your kids rocking to the Foo Fighters or whatever it is you like. Adolescence kicks in and, as the York academic puts it with more than a hint of understatement, “children tend to gravitate away from their parents’ choices”.
The biggest influence after ten comes from peers. Indeed, only ten percent of parents who attempted to inflict their tunes on their adolescent kids saw any glimmer of success.
How to Influence Your Child’s Music Tastes – More Information
Not only do you have to pick your time just right, but you also need to choose the songs you play your kids carefully. It was found that parents had the most success in passing on their favourite pop tunes, with far fewer managing to get their kids into metal.
The lesson here is that, if you think there are a number of songs they should get into, try the most accessible ones first. Once you’ve snared them, then you can move on to something more experimental.
My Attempts to Influence My Children’s Music Tastes
Bathtime has always been my domain since my eldest was born five years ago. It is also my opportunity to influence my kids’ music tastes. We always have music on and I’ve introduced them to some of my all-time favourites. They’ve consumed albums by Pulp, the Arctic Monkeys, the Beatles and more. In fact, when Elsa was four, I asked her what she would like to hear and she replied without hesitation, “the Stone Roses please daddy”. That’s not a bad start.
As she has started to discover music on her own we have begun to alternate between our choices. Her favourites include the aforementioned Trolls (actually pretty good the first three or four times you hear the album in one day), Little Mix (not that bad really) and PJ Masks (one of the worst audio experiences of all time. Nearly as bad as having to actually watch that horrendous show on telly).
I did think that my influence was waning as she found tunes she liked aside from mine, but these reports give me hope that I will get my real chance in three years’ time. And, if that doesn’t work, I can work harder on her younger brother.
Here’s the Twist
One interesting thing about the academic report is that the findings weren’t restricted to adults influencing children. Dr Egermann says it often works in reverse. He claims that when teenagers explain why they love a particular song, it can make parents feel more positive towards it. In addition, his report states, “parents are also susceptible to familiarisation, so if a child repeatedly plays their favourite music, parents may find they enjoy it a little more.”
Now there’s a man who has never had to drive from Yorkshire to Cornwall with Trolls on repeat.