Tips to Get Your Child to Practice
 
Many parents have had the opportunity to experience the difficult challenge of getting their child to regularly practice their musical instrument. What is supposed to be the "joy of music" can sometimes become an ongoing point of contention between parent and child. Here are some tips you can use to help ease the conflict and increase the amount of time that your child practices.

Get the Facts - Take time during a calm period to discuss with your child their lack of practice. Ask them if they enjoy playing the instrument, if they like their instructor and the type of music that they are learning. Ask them why they do not practice. Listen carefully. Maybe changing the type of music to something more contemporary will increase their interest in mastering the instrument. If it appears that it is a problem with initiative then move on to the next step.

Use Encouraging Words - Take every opportunity to encourage your child when they do practice. Let them know how great they sound and how you think the practice is paying off. Praise them in front of relatives and friends. A little encouragement and positive reinforcement will go a long way with children (and adults too for that matter).

Post it in Plain Site - Establish a specific time schedule for practice and post it where the child will frequently see it. Try the refrigerator, their bedroom, or maybe above the phone. You may even want to make a chart that they can check off each time they complete a practice.

Establish a Goal - Often children are motivated by the challenge of a goal. Most of us readily pursue goals with some type of "carrot" hanging out in front of us. We will work diligently and often for long periods of time to a promised reward. Establish something special that the child will receive if they complete a certain amount of practices. Start out small and slowly increase the amount of necessary practices to achieve the goal.

Let Them Decide - A fairly straight forward approach is to put the responsibility of practicing back into the hands of your child. Take a few moments to establish with your child what their responsibilities are in your family. Perhaps they have daily/weekly chores that you require them to do. Explain to them that instrument practice is now part of that routine. Tell them they cannot do anything personal (play, watch TV, talk on the phone, etc...) until all their chores have been completed. That includes music practice. If the chores and music practice are not completed they loose the privilege to do the personal things. Be warned...unless you intend to consistently follow through with this approach then your efforts will be in vain.

We hope these tips will prove helpful in getting your child to practice their instrument on a more regular basis. Strive to be patient, positive and encouraging. Remember that in the process of practicing, your child is learning the important skill of self-control. Self-control is a learned discipline and requires time. Above all try and enjoy this musical season of your child's life. It can be a special time that you can both look back on with fond memories.