Parenting Perspective: Practice makes perfect

February 14, 2011 3:06:41 PM PST
They say practice makes perfect...but it can also make for a frustrated and rebellious child if a parent isn't careful.

My son Nicholas has been taking piano lessons on and off for a few years now. While he's starting to really enjoy it, there was a time when it seemed as if his mom and I were almost forcing him to play--or practice. It was frustrating for all involved.

Certainly studies have shown that children who learn to play an instrument will not only develop a love for music, but their self-esteem and self-confidence is boosted, along with their sense of discipline, creativity and learning ability.

But the challenge is keeping the child enthusiastic and interested enough to want to practice - and parents have to walk a fine line.

"Interest goes up and down. There might be periods with your child where he's excited about practicing and there might be periods where he might not want to practice," said piano instructor Amanda Caserio.

Whether its piano lessons or playing a sport, many experts offer these helpful tips that can help keep your child interested enough to not only practice, but enjoy doing it:

1. Give them constant praise and attention during the practice. Every kid wants to feel like they're doing something that is being appreciated.

2. Know your child's limit as to how long practice should go, and how often. An hour a day of piano playing, for instance, may be too much.

3. Create positive experiences for the child, like inviting others to listen to them play in a mini-recital, or watch them on the practice field.

Most experts agree that forcing a child to practice when they don't really want to will eventually sour them on the instrument or the activity.

As for Nicholas, we don't expect him to be a professional musician - but we are hoping he will become proficient enough to play, and practice, for his own enjoyment...and not just ours.

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