What led you to become a Suzuki parent? I bet if we sat down together, you could paint a picture for me of the beautiful dreams you had of sharing music with your child. Building your family culture around music. Helping your child prepare for adulthood by developing life skills. There are hundreds of fantastic reasons to begin the Suzuki journey with your children.
Being a Suzuki parent is amazing, right? But there are challenges too. Big ones. Stress about practicing. Fighting about practicing. Paying for lessons. Making time for practicing. Keeping your cool during practicing. Making sure listening gets done. Trying to make practicing fun. Taking useable notes during lessons. Taking care of instruments. Buying music. Attending lessons, group lessons, recitals, and more. Comparison to other parents and students. Managing your (and your child’s) expectations. Keeping your mind on practicing WHEN you’re practicing…
What on earth am I going to feed these children for dinner tonight?
Did I mention practicing? We could go on and on, right?
These challenges can take their toll on us. This is true for all, but I think especially for parents. We often let our daily pressures (sometimes called children) sometimes negatively impact our physical and emotional well-being. What’s ironic about this is that our children ultimately rely on our well-being to succeed and grow themselves.
I love this quote by Robert Brault, “As parents, we guide by our unspoken example. It is only when we’re talking to them that our kids aren’t listening.”
We are constantly showing our children how to respond to stress, frustration, and disappointment through our actions. Unfortunately, I often show my children that the way to handle difficult emotions is to yell at my children, watch too much tv, and eat too much junk.
We have to take care of our physical and emotional health, not just for us, but for our children too!
In order to show up our best for our children, during practice and throughout the rest of the day, here are three ESSENTIAL daily practices of emotionally healthy Suzuki parents.
1. Create and cultivate a support network.
I cannot emphasize how important this is. If our friends and family aren’t in the Suzuki world, they often don’t understand the commitment it really is for parents. It’s a huge commitment, and it is a LOT of work.
Reach out to other Suzuki parents in your community so you can discuss issues with other parents in the trenches. Maybe a Suzuki parent night out? Ask your teacher to put you in touch with a “mentor” parent, someone further along in the journey who can help you see the big picture when you’re bogged down in the nitty gritty of daily practice battles.
You can also find community on the internet, I highly recommend The Suzuki Method Parent Discussion Group. The parents there are so amazing and supportive of each other. It’s a lovely community, and very helpful.
2. Practice daily self-care.
Self-care is a pretty trendy thing to talk about right now, and that’s good because it is vital. I am not talking about ditching the kids and getting a massage or a pedicure. (though if you can, go for it!)
I’m talking about taking some time every day to do something for you. Something to rejuvenate your spirit so you can show up for your family as the best you can be. If you’re coming to practice time completely spent and exhausted, likelihood is, you aren’t going to be super patient or fun. That’s just how it goes.
Preparing mentally for practicing with your child may begin at the beginning of the day by waking up a little bit early to read or exercise. Or if waking up early isn’t your jam, maybe using an electronic babysitter sometime after breakfast so you can do some yoga. (No judgement from me. If I can’t do some yoga before the boys wake up, you can bet they are watching Octonauts after breakfast and chores so I can move my body and attempt to feel like a human being again.)
I like to take care of myself before beginning the practice session too. Sometimes we light a candle. I make myself some herbal tea. And we start our practice session with a big hug, “I’m excited to practice with you today.” Meditation might be a great way for you to get into the right mindset for practicing.
3. Develop a mindset of celebration! One of my favorite parts of Christine Goodner’s book, Beyond the Music Lesson, is a quote by Suzuki Early Childhood Education teacher trainer Sharon Jones,
Successful families work together happily; they find joy in the process. They love the experience and progress at a comfortable pace. They figure out how to be good cheerleaders for their children. I always have the image of the face of a parent—head up—huge smile on their face while watching their child in a group class.”
It seems like being this cheerleader parent is so much easier to do when they are small. We are rarely pushing them to walk earlier, and we exult over every tiny progression in our little babies. We delight in almost their every move.
Tapping into this sense of delight and celebration over our children’s small steps in practice is essential to navigating the difficulties of being a successful parent.
Celebration is about noticing all that there is to be proud of and grateful for about your child. I really believe that which we focus on, that is what will grow.
When we apply our focus and attention to the negative, that’s what is growing! But the opposite can be true, if we focus on what is going well we will increase our positive feelings and be that much more resilient in the face of challenging circumstances.
Like wiggly four year old boys.
How do you stay sane as a Suzuki parent? Do you practice any of these ideas? What does it look like for you? Please share in the comments.