I love working with strong willed children because I know that what comes out on the other end is a passionate musician and a human being with vision and resolute - all things I value. I am also human and when my sweet 5 year old student came to 10 lessons in a row this winter with only a big "NO" I began to question my teaching approach since things appeared to be stagnant and I was not confident I was actually helping her. In this 3 minute video titled: "No, No, No!!!! Tips for Working with Strong Willed Children" learn 4 things:
BTW - Immediately after making this video the mother texted me a practice video of her daughter who was in the process of doing her assignment 110x that day! Wow, that is exactly why we never quit before the child!
How do you help your child or student when they are expressing a strong "NO"?
Please share in the comments below, thanks!
3/19/2017 03:09:03 pm
I have a definately strong willed child to teach. She wants to play the violin, is willing to play and practice on some days but on other days she puts her foot down, sits down, and says no. I wish to hear your suggestions. Thanks you for your assistance.
3/19/2017 05:16:03 pm
Hi Shirley, Thank you so much for taking a moment to comment. These students will absolutely challenge us but I am convinced that they are worth the extra effort. From what you mentioned, there is definitely a spark in this young musician you get to work with. Stay focused and look at the long term goals. Let us know how it goes. Thank you Heather
3/19/2017 08:34:09 pm
Putting a choice in the students' hands, whether real or perceived, can be a help... asking, "Do you want to practice it this way or that way?" Or, "Which do you want to do first?" Or, "Which do you think is best?" Really shows that you respect their decisions and are willing to work with them, rather than against their developed or developing will!
3/29/2017 01:12:02 pm
Hi Ira! Thank you so much for taking a moment to share some insight. We really appreciate this and hope it helps some more parents bring out the best in their young violinists! Best wishes Heather
4/29/2017 11:49:52 pm
I have an 11-year old "No" student. I have boundaries she cannot cross, such as having long nails, or throwing her violin on the floor. I discovered that she really wants routine in her lesson. So we do scales first; a review song; then a song she's working on for her next recital. I then give her choices. If she won't choose, I get to choose. But she generally likes choosing what to do next! Stay tuned!
4/30/2017 08:17:27 am
Hi Myriam, Thanks so much for posting and sharing this insight. I think routine can be a great way to structure a student like this. It sounds like you are on to something here. Let us know how this goes. Thanks HF
6/20/2017 09:03:28 pm
Thank you so much for posting this! As a mother of two spirited children I really appreciated you acknowledging how challenging it is for the parents. My oldest (6 y.o.) likes to make up her own games for her practices at home. They are always relevant so I allow her that freedom. I also allow her to choose what she wants to practice that day, but will suggest important exercises in between her games. My biggest challenge is getting her to do "10 times" exercises. Any suggestions? I have a fun counter and that sort of helps. Thanks!
6/21/2017 09:39:31 am
Hello Rachel, Thank you so much for taking a moment to write. I thought this reply overnight and the biggest thing that keeps coming to mind is DONT QUIT BEFORE THE CHILD. I was a very difficult child to practice with growing up and obviously this turned out to be my life's calling. Here is an article I had my mother write about this: http://www.musicforyoungviolinists.com/blog/i-hate-playing-the-violin-children-speak-in-code (and you can alos go to the blog and search all the "practice" articles). I also want to suggest 3 more things:
12/11/2019 09:46:12 am
I find that if I give my students options, like "what would you like to start with, A or B, (both of which is ok for me) gives them the feeling that they are more equal and feel more 'grown' up. Also, always think of some kind of reward that you can remind them of that they get from the task. It's an important lesson in life for kids, not that they all become professional musicians, but that they learn from the lessons, that work, time put in, account for something in the end. A great lesson for later on in life.
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Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!