Disclaimer: Please no snarky/flame posts about Tiger Parents. We are not Tiger Parents but we are not of the school of thought that says you give up on a child with the violin if they are not bursting with completely self-generated and boundless enthusiasm to practice. We have a 10-year old who loves to perform and to participate in his youth orchestra but he hates to practice (he started around his fifth birthday). If you put children (by pure nature) on a spectrum with one end being the naturally indolent child who has to be cajoled for every responsibility (chores, homework, etc.) and the other end is the child (admittedly rare) who, by nature, wants to be neat and tidy and is diligent about homework and practice, our son is pretty far to the first end (but we love him dearly all the same). He is this way with tennis as well (a sport he absolutely loves (and for which it’s certainly easier to get him going than with violin) but he has to be cajoled and prodded to do anything requiring discipline). Here’s the question: We desperately want to change the dynamic in the violin part of the relationship where he constantly has to be prodded to practice. The responsibility is (currently) 100% on our side or else he would never practice. We are at our wit’s end because if we say to him, “Look, if you don’t want to play the violin, no one is forcing you. You’ve got to meet us part-way. You are free to quit if you want.”, he becomes melodramatic and even cries at the thought of having to give up the orchestra and all the progress he has made (which he is genuinely proud of and values). So it feels like a terrible Catch-22. I realize we could take the tough-love approach and simply allow natural consequences (which would mean he wouldn’t practice at all and then he would show up for his lessons without having practiced and for orchestra without having practiced (which, besides being a waste of money, doesn’t feel fair to his orchestra unless he were to simply quit). We are desperately seeking help (tips, guidance, words of advice) as to how we can motivate him as well as to shift things more to his own personal responsibility for the violin if he truly wants to enjoy the fruits of playing violin.
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