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My Child Never Really Practises... Should They Just Quit?

Every parent wants to see their child succeed and enjoy their activities, but what if your child isn't putting in the effort to practice? It's a common scenario in music education, and the knee-jerk reaction might be to think they should quit. However, before making any drastic decisions, it's important to understand the concepts of growth mindset and the types of motivation: exogenous and endogenous.

Understanding Growth Mindset

A growth mindset, a term coined by psychologist Carol Dweck, is the belief that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This contrasts with a fixed mindset, where individuals believe their talents are innate gifts. When children struggle with practice, it isn't necessarily a sign that they lack ability or interest. Rather, it could be an opportunity to foster a growth mindset by encouraging persistence, effort, and a positive attitude towards learning and improvement.

Exogenous Vs. Endogenous Motivation

Motivation can generally be categorized into two types: exogenous and endogenous. Exogenous motivation comes from external sources—rewards like trophies or praise. While this can be effective, it might not sustain long-term engagement. Endogenous motivation, however, is driven by internal rewards. This includes personal satisfaction, enjoyment of the activity, and the intrinsic value of learning.

Strategies to Foster Endogenous Motivation and Growth Mindset

1. Set Achievable Goals: Help your child set small, attainable goals that lead to bigger objectives. This allows them to experience success and understand that their efforts have a direct impact on their outcomes.

2. Encourage Self-Assessment: Teach your child to assess their own playing and identify areas for improvement. This self-reflective process helps cultivate an internal motivation to get better, rather than just practicing to meet external expectations.

3. Focus on the Process, Not Just the Outcome: Emphasize the importance of the learning process. Celebrate the effort your child puts into practicing, not just their achievements or the final performance.

4. Explore Different Genres or Instruments: Sometimes, lack of motivation stems from a lack of interest in the specific instrument or style they are currently pursuing. Experimenting with different musical styles or instruments can reignite their passion.

5. Create a Supportive Practice Environment: Make practice sessions a routine that involves support and participation from family members. This can transform practice from a solitary chore to a fun and engaging family activity.

6. Use Role Models: Share stories of musicians who have overcome difficulties and achieved greatness through persistent effort. Knowing that even successful musicians had to start somewhere and worked hard can inspire perseverance.

Before You Decide to Quit

Quitting should be the last resort. It’s crucial to first try to understand the root of the issue. Is it the choice of instrument, the teaching method, or perhaps the external pressure that's affecting their motivation? Open a dialogue with your child about how they feel and what might help them enjoy their musical journey more. Sometimes, all it takes is a shift in perspective—both for the parent and the child.

In conclusion, the decision to quit isn't as simple as it might seem. It's an opportunity to teach valuable lessons about motivation, effort, and personal growth. By fostering a supportive and understanding environment that promotes a growth mindset and internal motivation, you might find that your child rediscovers their passion for music and their willingness to practice blooms naturally.

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