August 17, 2018

So you have your child taking music lessons, that's awesome! But now you're having some trouble with them wanting to practice. Every day it's a battle trying to get them to practice, and you just can't deal with it anymore. Well, kids are stubborn and if they don't want to practice, there's no way you can make them. Or at least that is what they think! We have seen a lot of kids taking lessons, heck most of us have even been one of those kids taking lessons. So here are a few ideas that may make your child be more motivated to practice their instrument:

1) Don't punish them for not practicing. I know, you want to show your kid that there are consequences for their actions, but when it comes to practicing an instrument, punishment may have the opposite effect. When kids are punished for something it creates a negative memory associated with the action they were punished for (thus why people are punished for bad behavior, so they won't do it again). But if they are punished for not practicing, that can cause them to associate negative memories and feelings with actually playing the instrument instead of associating it with the behavior of not practicing. So in the long run it could potentially cause your child to dislike playing the instrument all together rather than cause them to practice more often. So instead of punishing them for not practicing, give them positive reinforcement to encourage their behavior. For example; don't tell them they can't go to a friend's house until after they have practiced, instead let them know that you would prefer if they practiced first but leave the decision up to them and compliment them and show that you are proud of them when they do practice because then down the road when they want to go to a friend's house they will hold themselves accountable and want to practice first. 

2) Offer rewards. Now, we are not saying to reward them every time they practice, because they will come to expect it. But periodically, like if you notice that they went and practiced without being asked to, give them a small reward for practicing. It doesn't have to be anything big, it can be as simple as letting them choose the restaurant if you are going to dinner that night or getting to stay up an hour past bedtime. Small, periodic rewards for practicing will encourage them to continue practicing and they will associate positive memories with practicing which will eventually cause practicing to be its own reward. 

3) Make a chart. This works really well with younger kids. But essentially just make a chart of the month and every day that they practice they can mark off that day. Then they will see the month fill up and be able to see the days that they didn't practice stand out. A lot of kids will end up getting excited to mark off another day, which in turn gets them excited to practice. This is a great way to teach personal accountability as well.

4) Set goals. We are always hearing to set goals, fitness goals, financial goals, and on and on and on. But that is because it really works. Setting goals with your kids (i.e. learning a specific song) can really encourage your child to practice so that they can reach that goal. It's simple and you've heard it a million times but it really does work.

So those are our ideas. And you can combine them too, like setting a goal with a reward at the end. 

Got any other ideas on how to encourage children to practice? Drop them in the comments!