Practicing with our children is sometimes difficult. With all the other tasks on my to-do list, it seems like I often have no energy left to deal with delay tactics, tantrums, and other problematic practicing behaviors.
Do you ever have thoughts like these?
“Why can’t he just come to practice when I ask?”
“Why does this have to be such a fight?”
“He can’t be tired, we JUST started.”
“This is taking forever.”
And the kicker…
“I don’t have time for this.”
If I’m not careful, these thoughts automatically run through my mind during practice time with my five year old. I start to see red, my blood pressure rises, and my voice turns icy.
These thoughts inevitably lead to frustration and resentment. Once this happens, practicing goes south pretty quick.
Maybe this happens at your house too.
If I thought the reason for these feelings was my child and his behavior, then the only way to fix the problem is to change my child.
But I can’t change my child. I can only change myself.
Fortunately, our feelings come from our thoughts, and we can change those–even if our children’s behavior remains exactly the same.
The automatic thoughts will still come. They are practiced thoughts and they come easily and quickly. But we can choose to respond to unhelpful, automated thoughts with more empowering, peaceful ones.
“This is just how five year olds act during practice.”
“I can handle this.”
We set the tone for practice with our reactions to everything our children do. If I respond to my son’s practice antics and resistance with frustration or anger, I turn a small storm into a hurricane-force disaster.
In this month’s Plucky Violin Teacher book club pick, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids: How to Stop Yelling and Start Connecting, Dr. Laura Markham says, “Your child is fairly certain to act like a child, which means someone who is still learning, has different priorities than you do, and can’t always manage her feelings or actions. Her childish behavior is guaranteed, at times, to push your buttons. The problem is when we begin acting like a child, too. Someone has to act like a grown-up, if we want our child to learn how! If, instead, we can stay mindful–meaning we notice our emotions, and let them pass without acting on them–we model emotional regulation, and our children learn from watching us.”
P.S. I highly recommend this book!!
This is the key to creating the learning environment Dr. Suzuki imagined for every child. An environment of love and support. Parents don’t just create that environment, we ARE the environment. Our own emotional regulation can be a soft landing for all of our children’s feelings and resulting behavior.
Practicing with our children can be peaceful! It’s possible. But we have to bring the peace ourselves, regardless of what our children are doing.
Bring the peace to practicing with your child. Be the peace for your child. It may sound cheesy, but it’s worth the effort. For our children, and for ourselves.