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Tips & Tricks: Encouraging Your Child

impossibleJust a few weeks ago I had a student come to a violin lesson who did not want to get her violin out of her case. Her mother told me that someone had told her that she was not very good, the student had taken it to heart, and did not want to play anymore. This child had only had 3 lessons, and was doing just fine, learning at a good pace, and enjoying herself. I don’t know what happened, and I don’t know who told her that she wasn’t good, but it reminded me that we do have to be careful about what we say to others about their endeavours.

We all need encouragement. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all want external validation. The thing is that we don’t want empty praise. I have had many conversations with my high school students complaining that their parents tell them that they are great violinists, when they are not. They appreciate that their parents are being supportive, but don’t appreciate the emptiness of some of the praise.

So, how do you walk this fine line? I wish I had the answer! Praise is important, but it has to be in proportion. If your child has been practicing, but it hasn’t sounded great, perhaps just say something like “Good work practicing today.” You are praising their effort without going over the top about how good they sounded when indeed that is not the case.

On the other hand, be very careful about comments on squeaks and other sounds. What may seem to us to be an offhand comment, or a joke, can be taken much harder by the child. This is indeed something that has to be judged very carefully in relationship to each child, as we all have a different threshold.

So, all in all, be careful what you say to your children in relationship to their music. They do need praise, but especially as they get older, sometimes they would prefer for you not to gush over how well they played when you all know it was not the case.

photo credit: September 13, 2013 at 09:58PM via photopin (license)

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