Most parents understand the challenge of getting their child to clean their room, brush their teeth, do their homework and so on. Guitar practice is no different. Children will often resist such requests because it feels like work or seems boring. They just want to play games or watch TV which is understandable. We were all kids once and we too were not so keen on the above but, as parents we know that if children are given total freedom to do whatever, they will happily avoid anything that seems like work. The million dollar question of course is ‘how’ do we get children to do what we ask without it turning into a family feud? While there is no perfect solution there is one strategy that seems to work well.
The power of choice
Children (like adults) don’t appreciate being ordered around. The natural response to an order is to refuse, argue or negotiate. This can be frustrating for parents but there is a better way. Instead of just saying “Do your guitar practice”, give them choices. For example, “Would you like to do your practice now or in 15 mins?” This empowers them as they now feel they can at least have some say in the matter rather than just being ordered around. Another example might be “Would you like to do exercise A or B today?” At times they might reply with “Neither” but in this case repeat the question. If they again say neither then reply by saying “Either you choose or I will choose for you. Is it 1 or 2?”
When the above choices fail
There is of course one more choice if that fails. At this stage you need to draw the line. Ask “Would you like to do your practice or go to your room and early to bed?” This is necessary at times. Remember it’s all about choices. Children don’t often understand the long term benefits of learning music, doing their homework or cleaning their teeth. As parents you are not just helping your children learn the skills of guitar but, you are also teaching them how to master anything. This is a great life skill no matter what they choose to do later in life. Give it a try and let me know how you go.