With permission, I would like to post some thoughts that Niku (Erika and Audrey’s mother) had after reading Helping Parents Practice.
I guess the main thing that I took away from the book was that, from my kids’ perspective, I was being pretty negative. Even though I tried to give lots of praise during practice, there are always tons of things that I saw to “correct” and I think this was pretty exhausting for the girls, particularly Audrey. There is a method in the book where the parent gets three strikes before they have to remain quiet– each time I was frustrating Audrey with what I was saying or doing, she could turn over a card. After four cards I had to stay quiet. This helped me see what I was doing that was frustrating for her (not always what I thought it would be) and it gave her some control over our practices. We only did this a handful of times, but it really seemed to help.
Besides that, here are some main things that I took away from the book:
- The book says to just give the child one thing to focus on at a time, so now I hold my tongue on most mistakes and save my breath for the bigger issues.
- Make a mental note of mistakes the child is making and then praise when they don’t make the mistake, instead of criticizing when they do.
- Don’t jump in when they play the wrong note or interrupt in the middle of a song. This was a big one for Audrey. If she was struggling to remember the notes to a song I would sometimes jump in and help in. This really frustrated her (I found out with the card game) and she really did much better if I just gave her the space to figure it out herself.
- I think another thing that helped me was what you said about things being cyclical and that sometimes you just have to give time for a particular phase to pass. I’m so glad that you talked with me and we stuck with it because Audrey really seems to love her cello again.