Our youngest daughter turned three in October. At this stage, many parents would be relieved that they made it though the “terrible twos”. But truth be told, we didn’t feel relief because Halle was a lovely two year old.
Three, however, is proving more of a challenge. For the last month, our delightful little girl has been a bit of a “holy terror”… for lack of a better term. Maybe it’s because she just started preschool. Maybe it’s because her older sister isn’t at home to be her constant playmate, as she was all summer. Or maybe it’s because she’s entered a stage of disequilibrium… as described by some behavioural therapists.
But truth be told, the reason for her behaviour is not as important as our response. And our response is to stay the course. That is, to continue to parent as we always have, with love, understanding… boundaries and consequences.
Because, although our first instincts (and our heartstrings) tell us to let bad behaviour slide, we know that not only do kids need boundaries, but kids like boundaries… and slacking on these boundaries will only make things worse.
And So It Is With Troubled Piano Students
As a piano teacher, you know that teaching piano is just one aspect of your job. Being a role model, counsellor, and friend are also part of the job description. And in these additional roles you become keenly aware of the the ups and downs in the lives of your students… ups and downs that can have a huge impact on their piano progress.
Like me, when events in your piano students’ lives contribute to periods of “down” time, your first instinct is to probably cut them some slack and let things slide.
But in my experience, this only serves to exasperate the situation.
When kids are struggling with life they need structure and predictability. They need to feel secure in knowing that someone is maintaining a sense of control. And that someone can be you.
You do not need to drop your piano practice demands or turn a blind eye to forgotten books or unread lesson notes. Letting these things slide, contributes to the chaos… it also contributes to lack of progress… which contributes to increased frustration. And before you know it, bad times are getting worse.
So go ahead…
And maintain those boundaries free of guilt.
But do so with an extra dose of compassion and understanding. Help your struggling piano students fulfill their duties by making piano practice something that is good in their lives. Give your struggling piano students a fun reason to read those lesson notes. And throw out a little incentive to keep them prepared and organized when lesson day arrives.
If you can let them know you care by showing them that you’ve “got everything under control”, piano lessons will be a safe haven for your troubled students.