Many parents worry about how to practice with their child.
They worry that they aren't saying the right things.
If you find yourself in this position, it is helpful to take a step back. The heart of your role as the practice parent is to provide your presence.
Be Present (In a Way That Fits)
Think of practicing as watching a flower bloom. You can't force it. Yes, it needs water, and perhaps a trimming from time to time. But other than that, you just stand back and enjoy it.
This can be extremely hard to do!
Especially for us type-A personalities. We want to cut to the chase, to identify problems efficiently and solve them. (There are SO MANY MORE problems waiting for us after this practice session!) We think that we are being helpful by actively trying to do things, and to fix whatever is going on.
Unfortunately even with the best of intentions, when we are over-present, critiquing every wrong note, or hovering too close, we can squelch a child's internal motivation. Sometimes we can be very counter-productive to what the teacher is trying to accomplish, for example by introducing a technique too soon, or confusing the child with our own competing information.
Presence is hard to define exactly. It's all about the heart. Where your heart is, there will your presence be. It's the art of being. It has to do with awareness and attentiveness. It is giving the child enough attention for them to know what they are doing matters, and that you care enough to listen to it and provide feedback, but not robbing them of their ownership of the action, including discovering and correcting their own mistakes.
Of course, if your child asks for more attention and help, give it. Your teacher may also give you exercises meant to be done together, such as taking turns with the bow. If so, this is a great time to share in the practicing moment. Just be sure to step back when the time comes.
Parenting is about mindfulness in many ways. Being aware of the level of attention our children need is hard. The good news is, you probably have a natural instinct for it with your own child, better than anyone else. Take advantage of that so as to craft the right kind of presence.
ACTIONS FOR THIS WEEK
• Be nearby. If your child wants you right there in the practice room, do that. But often you'll find that children do not want that level of "hovering" over their practicing. Even if you have to multi-task (how can we survive as parents without multi-tasking?) in the next room sending an email, doing dishes, or paying bills, you can "send in" a comment from time to time, such as "that's sounding great!" or "keep going!"
• If your child is upset or frustrated, just ask curiously about what it is that is bothering them. Resist the urge to state what you think it is. Let them discover it on their own.
• Ask yourself, at what time of day am I most able to be present? When can I have my heart and mind most available to my child during his or her practicing, without succumbing to criticism or nit-picking?
Remember, be present in way that fits your child. Let yourself enjoy simply being in the presence of your child, and your child's practicing will truly flower