How much discipline

Pat said: Nov 9, 2015
 2 posts

My spouse is the practice coach and has been very diligent for 6 years and our child is outstanding. I’m concerned about the discipline strategies that are being used. I see a lot of crying and screaming on both sides, parent and student. And some (what I consider shocking) techniques/approaches to discipline such as the parent tearing up the notebook of practice notes and storming out of practice, or the parent saying angrily that the parent will no longer teach the student, or the parent saying angrily that the parent will sell the violin, or the parent being overly aggressive with hurtful/discouraging/insulting comments or pushing and shoving. In the end, they always reconcile, but I wonder if this relationship is healthy. If the other parent (me) attempts to intervene, the situation gets much worse between the parents. We have experienced this many times.

I understand that disciplining a child can get ugly at times and some crying and unhappiness is to be expected. The student’s outcome in this situation is exceptional, so perhaps these strategies are correct, but I’ve been concerned for some time and approached my spouse on this to no avail.

Thoughts? Recommendations?

Carolyn Smith said: Nov 9, 2015
6 posts

I can only say I fear that the end result of such consistently disastrous practice sessions might be a child who plays well but ends up detesting the instrument and music in general or a child that completely revolts around puberty. Have you talked to the child’s teacher? Having her involved in rectifying this is necessary.

Susan Miller said: Nov 9, 2015
 2 posts

Sounds extreme! I would love to hear what others have to say. How do you disciple during practice? My child is just shy of 4 and we’ve been at this three months. He can play some variations on the open string. We started slow—I tried to make it fun. We didn’t get anywhere so I quit trying to make it fun and just started forcing him—70% threats, generally time out, 30% bribes, usually ice cream. Basically he rarely does anything unless firmly threatened. I haven’t ripped any notes up yet but I could see it in a few years. I remember my mom yelling at me during practice and me crying and begging to quit violin as a kid. I remember enjoying it as well, but there a lot of practice battles.

So, experienced parents, does your kid do what you ask during practice? Or do you have to force everything little thing?

Phankao said: Nov 10, 2015
 128 posts

Hah—we have our fights too! My child says he loves performing, but not practising! How can a child be allowed to have this kind of attitude? In my opinion, it’s a training for adulthood and all these steps we take will go to shape the child in all aspects of their life—in school (how they manage challenges in school, at work) …. So I keep guiding. That’s why I’ve instituted a reward system—nothing monetary.

Alan Duncan said: Nov 10, 2015
Suzuki Association Member
81 posts

This sounds like a difficult situation in which to be a bystander.

Is there conflict outside of the practice room? In other words, does the practice just intensify existing conflict? Would your spouse consider family-oriented therapy?

I’m the main practice partner for my young violinist daughter. We parents bring a lot of our own “baggage” into the practice room. Some perspective from our personal developmental experiences helps. But much hinders. I’m sure that the times I’ve gotten more intense than I should be are because of unresolved regrets (“I wish I had practiced more, achieved more, etc.”) or because of runaway ideas about her potential. Mentally taking a step back to reframe the goals of practice helps.

I would look for a calm opening to talk about practice techniques “off-line” or about seeking some form of counseling. Too much is at stake.

Paul said: Nov 10, 2015
 11 posts

This is a really tough post to read as I know I have at times crossed the line with my own daughter’s practice sessions. But if you would allow me to say that I do feel that strategies used sound very much like a threat of withdrawal of love and that is unacceptable. The child will interpret these tactics and anger as a withdrawal of love even if somehow the parent is not meaning that message to be sent…..but I do not see how the child could interpret the threats any other way. And if you read Edmund Sprunger’s first book Helping Parents Practice, he makes this point over and over, that children continuously look for subtle clues from their parents about the parents’ love being permanent and not conditional.
The only good suggestion I can offer for consideration beyond abandoning these types of severe strategies is that the Suzuki parent must meaningfully connect with the child outside of the practice sessions prior to the practice. I say this as I do see with my own daughter that our practice sessions are far superior and pleasant if my daughter and I have other activities before we practice, such as walking our dogs or doing homework together or playing chess or even just chatting about school as we drive home together or have dinner. Without this prior connection and relating to each other sincerely, the practice sessions falter because we have not bonded and seen each other as caring father and daughter.
So my thought is that if the Suzuki parent is feeling the need for extreme tactics, is there a way to alleviate resistance by having more bonding outside the practice times?

Pat said: Nov 10, 2015
 2 posts

Yes. There’s conflict between parents outside of the practice room (if there exists anything else outside of the practice room). However, I think much stems from a practicing/homework/discipline focus and intensity that is excessive. My input is not at all well received.

Ally Ci said: Nov 10, 2015
 7 posts

I don’t think this is a Suzuki/practice issue, this is a parenting issue.
I would say that no amount of pushing, shoving, insulting an berating a child is acceptable, no matter how outstanding the final result is. This is damaging. If I were the non-practicing parent, I would intervene would rather have the wrath directed to me rather than the kid.

It often happens to me as well to lose my cool, especially with my youngest. Me and my spouse have a system in place that if I get too close to my limit, he steps in and diffuses the situation (and I do the same for him).

It’s up to the adult to create a pleasant environment conducive to learning. We wouldn’t accept such behaviour from teachers, why would we do it ourselves?

Eva Brodbeck said: Nov 11, 2015
 21 posts

I’m a little bit shocked to hear that there’s so much violence involved in a Suzuki studio between parents and children. It shouldn’t be that way. By all means loving and caring is the basis of Suzuki method. I never found any approval of using violence to force a child to learn music from Dr. Suzuki ‘ s philosophy. I would say if the relationship between parents and children is so strained they need to take time to fix that first. My experience is loving relationship and understanding of children’s needs should be growing during our musical journey and it did. Before my daughter started learning and practicing violin our relationship was a little tense. I thought the child was a rebel for her age. She was three and quite disobedient. But after reading the book written by Dr. Suzuki called’ Ability Development from age zero ‘and another book mentioned by Alan called ‘Helping parent practice’ I changed my view. Now all I want to do is to make our daily practicing on an acceptable level of stress to the child and make it as much fun as possible. The more important thing than forcing the child to play an instrument is to give the young beginners confidence and let them build self esteem, not the opposite. Resorting to violence defies our purpose as parents and educator.

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