3 ways to encourage your child to practise

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — October 25, 2018
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    Isn’t it frustrating when you have spent all that money on music or sports lessons for him, as well as laid out a small fortune to buy an expensive violin or costly pair of soccer boots, yet he simply can’t be bothered to practise?

    Related: Child not interested in learning: Here’s what you can do

     

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    As an adult, you know progress in skills comes only through hard work and dedication, and that achievement depends on loads of practice. Hence, when your child fails to live up to your expectations on these fronts, it’s no wonder you see red.

    You’ve already discovered that shouting at your kid to practise only has a short-term effect.

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    It’s true that he immediately picks up his musical instrument after you have given him a dressing down for not putting in enough effort towards his leisure pursuit. But within a few minutes, his temporary enthusiasm flags once again.

    You can’t force your child into a consistent practice regime. That’s why it helps to think before you act, and to reflect before you accuse your growing child of laziness or lack of appreciation. Ask yourself the following questions.

    Related: Why music lessons help your child learn better

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  • Is his lack of interest in practice a long-term source of irritation, or have you only noticed it in the past couple of weeks?
    4 / 9 Is his lack of interest in practice a long-term source of irritation, or have you only noticed it in the past couple of weeks?

    Most children go through a temporary phase of disinterest in their leisure activity even if they have an underlying commitment to it, but this dip usually passes spontaneously.

    When the reluctance to practise moves from short-term to long-term, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate whether it is better to stop the activity altogether.

    Related: 18 fun and educational enrichment classes for Singapore kids in 2018

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  • Did the desire to start the hobby stem from your child’s interest in the activity, or did you decide it would be good for him?
    5 / 9 Did the desire to start the hobby stem from your child’s interest in the activity, or did you decide it would be good for him?

    Of course, you should steer your kid in the right direction when it comes to learning to play a musical instrument or developing his potential in art or drama – he depends on you to guide him. However, it is also essential for him to have intrinsic enthusiasm for the activity.

    Related: 8 ways to save money on enrichment classes for kids

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  • Are you annoyed with his disinterest in practising because you feel he is wasting his potential or because you have already spent a lot of money on the activity?
    6 / 9 Are you annoyed with his disinterest in practising because you feel he is wasting his potential or because you have already spent a lot of money on the activity?

    The prospect of seeing your hard-earned money go down the drain hurts, whether it is from watching your child’s lack of response or the trombone gathering dust in a corner. However, maybe it is time to accept this is one investment that isn’t going to pay off.

    If you are still convinced that your child should be encouraged to practise harder and that it is in his best interests, the next step will be to draw up a schedule with him.

    Related: 9 things you need to know about Chinese enrichment classes for kids

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    Don’t be a drill sergeant who imposes an inflexible, crushing, hour-after-hour practice routine. Instead, explain your concerns to your child, and try to determine why he is so disinterested. Let him speak and listen to what he has to say, then put your point of view across.

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    Reach a compromise on his practice schedule. Perhaps he only wants to commit an hour a week to it, while you want him to commit an hour a day. If so, a suitable compromise could be to practise every alternate day. Your child is more likely to stick to a practice routine that he has been consulted about.

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    Finally, monitor the time he gives to his practice. Give him lots of praise when he follows your joint agreement, and after a few weeks, have a chat with him about the possibility of increasing the hours that he puts in.

    Slow and steady changes that you both agree on are much better than forcibly stepping up the pace by acting like a drill sergeant.

    (Photos: 123RF.com) 

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