Piano Lessons

When do you let your child quit something?  I’m having a hard time letting Avery (9) quit her piano lessons.  I know that she enjoys playing, but what she doesn’t like is having to practice 15 minutes a day.  I personally don’t think 15 minutes a day is that much, but it’s like pulling teeth with her.  So maybe this means she doesn’t really enjoy playing the piano?  She gets excited when she is assigned a new song.  She gets excited when she gets a new book with filled with many songs that she is familiar with.  But then it all goes downhill once she is asked to pratice.

She hates to “work” at something.  She has always been like this.  Homeschooling her has never been easy.  The thought of introducing a new concept to her keeps me awake at night…because I know what I’m in for.  She “shuts down” when something gets hard or slightly challenging.  If she doesn’t understand something the first time…she wants to run.

What do you do with this kind of personality?  None of my other kids are like this.

At the age of 2 and a half, Avery could do a complete carwheel. She was so good at gymnastic-type stuff that when she was 4 we put her into a gymnastics class.  We wanted her to have fun and to learn some new skills.  After two years, she progressed into the harder class and it got a bit more challenging for her.  And then she quit.  She said she didn’t like gymnastics anymore.  We didn’t think much of it at the time — she was just 6 years old, afterall.   We then put her in tennis lessons because she began to show an interest in that.  She loved tennis!  And she was so good at it!  Again, after about 2 and a half years of lessons, she progressed into the more challenging class…and she quit!  That fall she wanted to try soccer.  She did one season of soccer and had fun with the team.  But when the next sign up session came around, she did not want to play again. 

In the meantime, she has been taking piano lessons for almost two years..  At first she loved it!  But see…now it’s getting hard.  The lessons are more challenging. And again, she wants to quit!

So this is her personality — to quit things when they get hard.  Well…now that I recognize that this is her pattern, I can’t let her stay like this…because life is full of challenges.  So I’ve told her that piano lessons are considered academic, like math and reading, and so she may not “quit” but has to continue her lessons. I have explained to her that I would like to see her stick with something and not quit when it gets hard.   She’s not happy with me. 

She says, “I don’t see why you make me to do something that I don’t like.”
and I answer, “I make you brush your teeth everyday, too.  It’s just part of my job as your mom.”
She says, “That’s not the same.”
I say, “It kinda is.”
She says, “Okay, well I’m not going to practice.  You can’t force my fingers to work the keys.”
and I say, “Okay, well until you practice, just as it is with homework, you won’t play outside with friends or have tv time or anything else fun.”

Okay, so am I the meanest mommy ever?

When Afton took piano lessons, she played wonderfully for about 3 years.  But ultimately she decided that her club soccer commitments and school were enough for her, and she quit.  I was disappointed that she quit, but I let her.  Why?  Her reasons were different. She practiced a lot and without complaining. She enjoyed piano. She was just having a hard time balancing it all, and had to let one activity go.  I respected her decision.  Avery, on the other hand, seems to quit everything she starts whenever it gets the slightest bit hard for her.  It’s just not the same.

I am all for letting them find what interests them..trying different things….but I fear by allowing Avery to quit everything as soon as it gets hard is setting her up for failure in the future.  She will be 10 years old in April — is this too early for me to be concerned with?  Should I let her quit — again??!!!  
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  1. says

    My son, Grant Jr. has a similar personality. He’s very athletic, but there’s a point when natural talent is not enough and you have to start working hard-that’s when he quits. It happened with baseball, football, and BMX. We tried hard not to let him quit, but ultimately he did. Now (at the age of 21) he realizes what he did and regrets it. I thik you’re doing the right thing, but you may have to let her quit and feel the remorse later, even if it takes a while. She can always pick up playing again later. Sorry I don’t have great advice, but I know how you feel.

  2. Anonymous says

    you’re doing the right thing. making her pracice piano for 15 minutes a day is not asking much, and it will teach her to stick with something not because she wants to, but because mom says so/out of discipline.
    also, maybe once she gets past the hard part, she will realize it wasn’t so hard and learn something from the challenge. you’re totally right in this case!

  3. says

    What if you try to compromise with her? Ask her to practice only on MWF. Tell her she can have two days off. Maybe bump the three days up to 20 minutes? Maybe just having those two days off will excite her?

    Or what if you put a goal chart up and tell her that if she practices every day, at the end of the week or month she can have a whole day to do something she wants to do. Put the progress where she can see it and put that day of fun on there too so she knows how many more days she has left till she reaches it.

    Tanner is doing the same thing right now with dance, she isn’t excited about it anymore and doesn’t want to sign up this year.

    Hope this helps, keep us updated!

  4. says

    No…you are not being mean. I am like you where I “go with” whatever interest my children.

    Avery is getting older so that also plays a factor as far as pushing her goes. My 6 year old didn’t like going to choir so I let him quit. I think he’s too young to push now. But when our kids are older we don’t let them quit so easily. Maybe you can start small…Like practice 5 minutes at each sitting. Set a timer and let her pick what times she wants to practice. If she’s not homeschooled then I guess you don’t have the luxury of time. Well…whatever works best. I would break it up if I were you, then eventually she’ll probably prefer to do it in one block of time.

    You’ll figure what’s best….the Lord will show you! :)

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