Member Question: My 7 year old daughter asked to take piano lessons and she enjoys the lessons on the weekends but getting her to practice during the week is tough because she is tired after school. Any suggestions to motivate her without a fight to practice during the week?
Rachel’s Response: Yes! This is one I hear a lot! Here are a few tips:
*The Joint Problem Solving strategy is VERY helpful in situations like this. Here’s a page in the Academy that goes more into what that is: https://rachelbaileyparentingacademy.com/…/the-joint…/ , and a video that goes with it:
But, very basically that means that
a.) you set a boundary (you have to practice)
b.) you ask her what practicing is like for HER (you have to listen here without jumping in… the goal is to let her release Yuck AND to find out why she doesn’t like it)
c.) you brainstorm solutions based on the fact that she has to practice AND everything she talked about in step b
d.) you come up with a plan together for how she’ll get through practicing
e.) you come up with a plan for how she wants you to handle it if she starts to push back
This plan offers both respect and control, which improves behavior a lot.
*She WILL DEFINITELY need help with dealing with the monotony of practicing. Kids’ brains are not wired to persist in monotonous tasks.. (Adults are better finding ways to cope, because they use their prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that does not fully develop until the mid 20s.) She may need to find strategies like practicing for 10 minutes and then getting up and walking around the piano 5 times and then going 10 minutes more, etc. Or she may need to play a “fun” song at the end of practice and work her way up to that song, etc.
This will offer her tools to be successful.
Response from another parent: I’ve been raising violin players for 20 years and the best way to get some consistent practice is to have them do it before school in the morning. That way they’re fresh and I could get more efficient practices in fewer minutes….