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  • I read a lot about the benefits of learning how to play a musical instrument. But how can I pick an instrument for my kid to start playing?

    A child will reap the benefits of musical training regardless of what musical instrument he or she is playing. However, choosing the right instrument for your child and for your family environment remains important. Forcing children to learn instruments they have no interest in will not foster a love of music and might cause the child to resent having to practice. However, you also don’t want him or her to choose an instrument that does not suit your family. For example, if as a parent you do not like the sound of the electric guitar, you will not be able to support your child or endure the hours of practice he or she needs to put in. Parents also need to like the sound of the instrument their child is playing. Take into account your child’s body type and make sure he picks an instrument he is comfortable holding and carrying. Also, make sure your child’s choice is not affected by any perceived “social value” of an instrument. For younger kids (4-6) you can’t go wrong with the keyboard or piano as those instruments provide a great foundation and children can easily transition to other instruments later if they would like to. Violin is also a good option as it comes in scaled sizes, but it requires more patience and persistence. Another thing to take into account is your child’s personality type. High energy kids can get great stress relief from playing the drums, and outgoing personalities may prefer instruments such as the saxophone or trumpet. The most important consideration, however, remains your child’s personal preference and passion as those are the biggest guarantees that he or she will stick with the instrument long enough to earn the life-long benefits. 

  • My kid is sometimes having temper tantrums and complaining of headaches to avoid going to school. How do I know if he needs help or therapy?

    It’s important to note, before jumping to conclusions, that this could just be a phase or something that will pass. Children change a lot. Things happen in their lives that might make them vulnerable for a certain period of time. They can become more resilient when it passes. So you always want to think of the whole picture. When parents come to me and ask how they can tell if their kid needs help or therapy, I usually tell them to ask themselves those questions:

    1- Is the kid physically sick all of the time? (Migraines, headaches, stomach problems, etc…?)
    2- Does the kid look happy or miserable all the time? Do they consistently nag or cry or are they generally in a good mood?
    3- Do they have friends at school? Do they communicate well with other kids their age? ( for example, do they get invited to birthday parties?)
    4- How are their grades? How is their performance at school?

    If the answers to all of those questions are positive, then it is probably transitory. There will of course be problems but after all kids are kids.  Let the child be, let them live, and don’t make a big deal out of something small. However, if the answers to all of those questions are negative, then they do need help. 

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