Children (5 to 10 yrs old) who are extremely indisciplined and disruptive in piano class, are almost always the same at home. And yet, these are invariably children, whose parents are making a steady and constant effort to instill discipline, and, obviously not succeeding.
So, piano teachers have a choice :
Option 1 : Do teachers simply tell the parent to discipline the child – knowing the parent is already trying and not succeeding?
As a teacher who interacts regularly with parents, I usually have a fair idea of what the child is like at home and find that asking the parent to handle extreme indiscipline results in the child being told he or she is badly behaved. Since these children usually have learned how to push their parents to breaking point, this sometimes results in shouting and very rarely, beating the child. And both of these just make a child more difficult.
Option 2 : Should teachers talk to the parent and see how both the parent and the teacher can both change our teaching and parenting techniques, and work together to get the child to change
This means that the teacher is looking at a child, who is naughty, lacking in discipline, sometimes moody and bad tempered or cranky, or even attention seeking in a negative way, and saying “The child is not the problem – it is just that I the teacher, and the parents, have not yet found a teaching and parenting technique, that works on this child”
This is hard for both the teacher and the parent, because, actually, we have both done nothing wrong. However, if both of us just stick to our existing ways of functioning, which have obviously had no effect on the child, the child is likely to continue being indisciplined and may even get worse.
Why the teacher finds it hard : The teacher sees the child just once a week, so in a way it should be easier for her to be patient. It should, but it isn’t always. There are times when all the students on a particular day come to class and argue, throw, tantrums, sulk, and refuse to learn – any teacher will relate to this. And since discipline is part of piano teaching, it has to be dealt with.
Parents find it hard, because they never get a break!
Parents will often find that their parenting technique, which works on getting one child to be very well behaved, has the exact opposite effect on the other child. And yet, the parents are the biggest influence on a child .. much much more than any teacher can hope to be. So, the parent still has a choice :
- To continue using the same parenting techniques on both children, and accept that one child is just plain difficult
- To accept that the indisciplined child simply needs a different kind of parenting, and try to experiment and learn what works
I see progress, and I see change, with the many many open-minded parents who interact with me, and are taking the time to give their children what they need, in order that they learn better. It’s not always easy for the parents, or for me the teacher (since we both often have different ideas and sometimes strongly disagree with each other on how to discipline the child – though we both agree that discipline is needed). But, since we persevere, we eventually find some common ground and are able to work together to make a difference.