Forcing Your Child to Play an Instrument: Raising a Rebel

As our kids continue to grow and develop and learn new skills, they will also face days or phases of being demotivated, lazy and would like a break. We as parents pay good money for our kids to take part in music lessons and the equipment that goes along with it. But to which level should we push them to keep on practising before letting it be?

By forcing our kids to practice, we are building an emotional wall between our kids and us. With this negative experience, our kids will cognitively connect our wishes with a negative activity and will become rebellious to our advice as parents. The main consequence is that they will start to dislike learning music.

Therefore it’s crucial to reflect often and set achievable short-term goals together.

If you are looking for methods to motivate your kids to continue their musical journey in a cooperative and positive manner, don’t miss the post I wrote about the ways to keep kids motivated to play their instruments.

The Result of Your Actions

Your child will grow up feeling like they want to distance themselves from not only music but also from your opinions and ideas.

Your child should not feel burned out from their instrument and that they are disappointing you at the same time. We want our families to live together in harmony, giving each other space, and unconditional love.

When we force our kids to practice in their demotivated state, it leads to them delivering a disappointing result which would then lead to them feeling like they are not good enough. This psychological feeling stays for decades and in most cases, treatment will be needed.

Kids Should Feel Like It’s Their Choice

As soon as either of us feels forced to do a certain job, we automatically don’t want to do it any more. With kids, it’s the same. Keep the ball in their court and reflect regularly about the short-term goals that you’ve set together.

Positive questions that provoke motivation are:

  • When are you planning to practice your instrument this week?
  • Do you have at least two sessions during the week where you would like to pay attention to your guitar?
  • I am looking forward to hearing you play the piano again!
  • Would you like to show me what you’ve been working on in music lessons?
  • Can we make a video of you playing that piece again, please?

Keep making it their responsibility and hand them the ownership of their musical journey.

Find the Reasons for Them Being Demotivated

There could be deeper reasons for them being absolutely demotivated. And in these situations, we should dig a little deeper into what the actual root of the problem might be.

Possible Reasons That Kids Get Demotivated to Play Their Instruments

  • Burning out or in need of an urgent break.
  • Social challenges like not having friends that play instruments.
  • Too busy weekly program and they are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Too much pressure and expectations from the parents.
  • Too much critical feedback from the people that matters.

Finding the solution

We would need to be reflective on all the possibilities of “why”. Our kids should not feel afraid of our reactions and will need to feel supported and loved unconditionally about their reasons for currently being demotivated.

Talk to your child before starting the process and make sure that they understand that their honesty can only lead to solutions, even if it means that feelings might be hurt. Once the reasons are visible and spoken about, we can start to find solutions.

Follow this procedure:

  1. Have paper and a pen ready.
  2. Ask your child to write down at least 5 reasons why they don’t want to practice or play their instruments any more. (The number 5 gives them a framework to work in. If there are not 5 reasons, they will continue to think or they will write the same thing 5 times or different variations of the same reason.)
  3. Give them about 10-15 minutes of privacy to focus only on this one objective.
  4. Once completed, ask them to read the first one, and stay open-minded. It might be that you are included in the reasons, but see it as the small version of yourself just placing a mirror in front of you.
  5. Take each reason seriously and construct a solution together for it.

There might also be cases when there are no possible solutions but to take a break for the unforeseen future. We will need to respect this and just hope that the curiosity will someday return again.

If you feel like this is a situation you are currently dealing with, you will benefit from reading the post I published about the reasons that lead to our kids quitting music and what to do to prevent it from happening.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from on 05.02.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

Paying attention and learning together is an aspect of keeping your child motivated to learn their instruments.

How to Stay Positive in Motivating Your Child

It isn’t easy to keep our kids engaged and interested in something for years, and therefore we should encourage them to live their lives with balanced programs so that they can develop holistically.

Here are a few steps to stay positive in motivating your child:

  • Don’t make it your dream. It’s key to leave the ball in their court, even if it’s really hard not to say anything.
  • Set achievable short-term and long-term goals together. Make it a team effort and don’t create an autocratic leadership style over your child.
  • Show your child that you are proud of them by celebrating little successes. Do this by spontaneously taking them for ice cream or dinner or a short outing for kids. This is not a reward, but a celebration. We as adults also celebrate our successes, especially when we reach our goals or dreams and we should treat our kids like we would have wanted to be treated.
  • Recognise when it’s time to take a break. Aren’t we all excited and happy to have a holiday and rest out once in a while? Taking a step backwards and reflecting is a great way of taking many more steps forward. Our kids also reflect during these times. This is where dreams grow and where we find new ideas and goals for the future. Kids need these types of breaks at least 4-6 times per year to stay fresh and motivated.

Many successful musicians started learning their instruments during their teens when they were able to choose their instruments and practice times themselves.

You can give your child a head start by not pushing them too hard, but instead, using clever motivational and rewarding methods to keep your child keen, happy and engaged during their journey to becoming a pro on their instruments.

If you are still in the starting phase and would like to know how you could inspire your child to learn a musical instrument by making the decision themself, then this blog post might be really helpful for you!

Take it easy, until next time!

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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