Mistake #2 You talk at them – not with them

It’s time for them to practice – and you’re ready.

You carved some time out of your day to help. You tell them to play a song exactly the way the teacher told them to play it. You even give feedback when a note sounds off.

Keep your scroll up!

Keep your back straight!

Keep your eyes on the music!

You’re doing everything you’re supposed to be doing.

So why are they so annoyed?

Sometimes they just need you

You play a lot of roles to this one little person.

You take them to lessons. You practically move mountains to get them to practice. And once they finally start, you deal with them falling to pieces when they don’t play the way they want.

Being so many things at once is enough to drive you crazy. There’s but so much coaching, counseling, and comforting you can take. Somewhere along the way, you start to lose yourself.

The second they need you the most – simply just to be there, in their presence, quiet beside them as they struggle their way out of problem they’re just about to solve…

You go to another place…far away from parent.

You go into dictator mode: to get more done and to get on with it.

At some point, it just started feeling easier to shout out orders now and then. It’s not something you enjoy doing. So you tell yourself…if it gets practice out of the way, a song sounding a little bit better, and you closer to the things you’d much rather be doing, what’s the harm?

But there’s a problem…

You’re not coming back.

My Mom never came back

Dictator mode was my Mom’s back up role when practice wasn’t going well for us.

Her idea of helping me was pointing out what sounded bad, what I wasn’t doing, and what I needed to do more of. It was her way of pushing me. In her eyes, “helping” me.

Instead of having a parent by my side, I had a drill sergeant 24 hours a day – 7 days a week.

And she never came back.

How Dictator Mode Backfires Every Time

Parents who get stuck in dictator mode think they need to be more than who they are now to help their child achieve their potential – a little more strict, a little more serious, a little more something they aren’t right now. They can’t always be “nice” because nice doesn’t get the work done. They think that if they’re going to help their child succeed in life, they’re going to have to be more for them.

They are going to have to become a dictator.

And that’s exactly when you stop talking with your child and you start talking at­ them.

It’s an easy role to slip into. When you feel like there’s so much to do and not a lot of time of time to do it in, the emotions and demands from their teacher and your child will start blurring together. You might feel like going into dictator mode is the only way practice is ever going to get done – the only way they’re going to become great.

But in Positive Pushing Dr. Jim Taylor says that when you do this, it’s easy for your child to feel like your “little employee.” If talking at them becomes a regular way you communicate with them, they’ll start to feel like you don’t really care about their feelings after practice is over. It’s hard to switch back to parent mode.

When you stay forever stuck in dictator mode, you start to lose a connection with your child. A connection that’s very hard to put back in place after it’s lost.

You Don’t Have To Be Something You’re Not To Get The Results You Want

You don’t have to become a dictator.

You don’t have to try and fit into a role that makes you feel bad.

You don’t have to be pushy to help them achieve success.

You’re more than enough for your child. You’re exactly what they need.

It’s going to be hard sometimes. It’s going to take some listening, some coaching, and some consoling along the way.

But you can bet money your child is going to work hard to make you proud because your approval means the world to them. No trophy, no award, and no medal will ever top your seal of approval in their eyes.

With the right amount of practicing, their posture will be perfect, they’ll stand confidently on stage, and they’ll play beautiful music they only dreamed about playing years ago. One day, all of these screechy notes, tantrums, and nursery rhymes will be a thing of the past.

But before any of that happens, you have to be willing to stand beside them, let them struggle, and help them understand that success doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without a lot of work.

They have to know you’re on their side – showing you love them that no matter what – the way only a parent can. Sometimes letting go when all you want to do is jump in and save them from all of that uncomfortable frustration.

But once you have the strength to show calm steady support, full of absolute unwavering love –  a love only you can give – you’ll open a world of possibilities you never thought possible.

It will be stronger than any command you shout. It will feel better than any award they’ll receive. It will be greater than any tiger mom tactic you could pull.

And when they feel that steady love and support in the midst of playing through repetitions, sour notes, and tough practices, nothing will keep them down for long.

I’ll talk to you soon,



Get here from a link from a friend? This article is part 2 of a 7-part free email series on the mistakes you make getting your child to practice. Click here to get them all.