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Should I stop my child listening to inappropriate lyrics?

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BakeSw@p members want to know… kids love singing along to the radio in the car (how do they know all the words!) but some of the song lyrics are really inappropriate. And while they don’t always know what the words mean I worry about them using those words in conversation or becoming desensitised to some very unsavoury concepts. Should I be concerned? And what should I do about it (besides turning off the radio…)

We asked vocal transformation coach and author of The Voice Factor, Dene Menzel and Ronit Baras, educator and parenting expert, for their advice on our expert panel.

As a vocal coach with many years teaching children, Dene says she believes there are a growing number of popular songs containing explicit or inappropriate lyrics.

“I have always screened song lyrics and changed them to more appropriate 'kid friendly' words, or song choices if necessary when teaching children,” she says. “I've seen children pick up lyrics after hearing a song played only once, and once is all it takes for a child to begin repeating such words in their communications – even if they may not understand what it means.”

However, Dene says that is from a teaching perspective, and as a parent, it is much more difficult to ‘screen’ every song that your child hears (and not just on the car radio – such as if they are listening to music on Pandora, YouTube, or on a mobile device). “There is so much music out there and I believe that children should be exposed to different kinds of music in their development into society,” Dene adds. “The challenge is to know how to address it if inappropriate lyrics do come up. That, I believe, is up to each parent to handle.”

According to Ronit, parents should be concerned about their children listening to songs with inappropriate language because research shows when an idea is repeated over and over, we tend to believe it is true – and this applies to adult themes and the use of swear words in lyrics.  “The real problem is that when you ask kids what is the song about, they don't know what to say,” she says. “They say they love the music but they still repeat the whole song so the message goes in, even if we are not aware of it.”

Ronit advises parents when they hear something inappropriate to say something. “This is the only way to raise kids with critical thinking,” she says. “Make them aware to what they are listening and what they are singing. If you do it enough, they will start doing it themselves when you are not there.”

She recommends having a list of songs you approve of to listen to in the car, but says it is important not to be critical of every song they listen to, because your kids will just stop listening to you.

What songs do your kids love that you do not approve of?

Sw@p Tip: “When kids are singing, ask them to tell you what the lyrics are. When they repeat it, not with the music, they will understand that some words there are inappropriate.” (Ronit Baras).


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Dene Menzel is a vocal focal transformation coach and author of best-selling book, The Voice Factor. She spent many years teaching school-aged children and has a three-year-old daughter.

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Ronit Baras is an educator and parenting expert, specialising in emotional intelligence. She is also a mother-of-three.

All advice is general in nature and the BakeSw@p team recommends you seek professional advice from your doctor or health practitioner regarding any concerns relating to your child.

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    MaBaker - almost 4 years ago

    It amazes me how my kids seem to know all the words to popular songs - I try and switch radio stations when a song comes on that I think isn't appropriate for kids their age to listen to. So they must be learning it at school in the playground. So switching stations in the car probably makes no difference...

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