The best way to set the course for good teenage years is to start in the tween years. It’s much easier to get tweens to talk if they think it’s OK to trust the adult. Music is easily the best way to bridge the generation gap between adults and children on the verge of young adulthood. With some mutual interests and respect via a good song, it’s surprising how easily the child will open up to important conversations.
The best way to use music as a tool is to help the child understand how certain songs really resonate with certain people. Then ask them what their favorite song is, and why? You might be surprised at what they say. Often, this approach works best in a group because children want to be heard, and if they see you responding positively to one kid, they will likely want to get the same attention. If you’re encouraging, and if you can reinforce the feelings because you felt the same way about a song when you were young, the generation gap dissolves. Now it’s time to listen. Ask a few questions. Ask for some details about the favorite song and the young person’s experience. The more you show genuine interest in what the youngsters have to say, the more likely you’ll get tweens to talk about those important conversations they may have been waiting to share.
Based on what you hear, you can now be encouraging and offer some positive guidance. Never make a child feel like what he or she says is silly or unimportant. As adults, we may think that the music these kids love is offensive, dumb, or unhealthy. Our parents thought the same thing of our music. Don’t belittle the choices the group makes. If you’re open and excited about who and what they like in songs, then they’ll be open and excited, too. Once this important conversation really gets going, some of the kids will break that generation gap by naming songs from your childhood. Kids are impressionable, so they’re likely listening to some of their parents’ music, too. A great song is timeless because its theme is timeless.
To really get the talking going, you might play a few songs that have resonated with people for many years. Likely, the kids have heard those songs, too. Hank Williams’ music is a great example. Although he’s from a day gone by, his music bridges the generation gap as he laments love, loss, and loneliness. Most adolescents will tell you they want more attention. If you can get tweens to talk, you satisfy that very important need, and you help them build a strong self esteem for the rough teenage years ahead.