Making Practice a Routine
Relying on habits rather than motivation sets your child up to succeed in daily practice. Think of someone who is trying to eat healthily - what tactics will they use to set themselves up for success? If they stock their kitchen with cookies and candy bars, it’s going to be much harder than if they surround themselves with colorful fruits and veggies. The trick is to limit their options to good ones; there’s no chance of them making poor choices if none are available.
How do we achieve this with practice time? The first thing is to make a decision on the timing; pick a time that works consistently and stick to it! This may have to vary from day to day, but it will still help your child to know that every Monday they will practice at 7pm, for example. Once you have stuck to it long enough, the schedule will become automatic, and your child won’t see deviating from it as an option.
If you leave practice time until your child “feels like” doing it, but they are surrounded by books, toys, and electronics all afternoon, they will probably “feel like” doing other things. Of course, you shouldn’t take all their toys and games away, you don’t want practice to feel like a punishment. Instead, consider anchoring practice to something that has already pulled them away from these distractions, like mealtime or getting home from school.
The other important aspect of creating a practice routine is teaching the idea that it’s okay not to want to do something, but it still needs to be done. As the parent, you set the boundary that practice needs to happen. It’s okay if your child doesn’t feel happy about this, they may even be upset or angry, but this shouldn’t be a reason to not practice. It’s an important part of maturing to learn to emotionally handle doing things we don’t want to do. Practice can be frustrating or uninteresting at times, but as they start to see results, your child will see the value in it. Everyone likes to be good at things, and if you practice well, that’s the reward!
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