As a piano teacher, I don't usually get very frustrated with my students because they are not my children. I can only do so much to convince them to practice or take my advice and I know that ultimately their parents will have the most influence on their daily habits. However, it is a different thing altogether when I am teaching my 5 year old daughter on the piano. I get so frustrated so fast and expect the moon out of her before she has a chance to sit down. Being the parent AND the teacher, even just in a homework situation, can be far more complicated than we expect.
The next time you find yourself ready to throw up your hands or just keep getting mad with your offspring, keep these tips in mind.
Tip #1: Imagine this was any other kid in the world. Would you have more patience or understanding with that other kid? Would your expectations be a little more reasonable? All too often we get our pride mixed up in our teaching and put unnecessary pressure on the learning process.
Tip #2: Environment matters. Is the room or space you are working in loud or full of distractions? Is it too hot or too cold? Have you tried adding/taking away music or moving outside for a change of scenery? We all have optimal circumstances for learning and it behooves you to learn your child's.
Tip #3: Reality Check. Are you expecting mastery overnight when it should be something that comes gradually? Did you as the parent/teacher drop the ball somehow on preparation and are now feeling pressed for success? Things at home do not always go as planned and then other things get pushed around as a result. It's easy to take our stress out on our children, even when it has nothing to do with them.
Tip #4: Change the trigger. Teaching our kids - especially when they struggle - can become a big trigger for everyone. Dreading helping your child or dreading getting help from a parent is not what we're going for here. If one or both of you are so tense and stressed about this, then something has to change. Hug more. Be more encouraging. Share a treat. Find some way to change the tone of what you are doing so that you can both relax more and actually learn something!
You are your child's biggest advocate. Don't let stress of unimportant things take away from the most important people in your life.