Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To Quit or To Endure

I was reading about a mother's stressful experience getting her young child to study music. She expressed how her child would not sit still during the lesson, be disruptive or just plainly not listen to what's being taught. Getting the child to practice is another battle.

Reading about her experience I wondered, why not just call it quits in the music lesson? Seems like unnecessary stress to me.

But then I remembered a story related by my friend, on how she 'suffered' in pushing her uninterested, lazy son to learn music... and now her son is happy to have persevered as he makes a tidy sum giving violin lessons. However, she also has another daughter that was pushed to finish her piano lessons, and after finishing her grade 8, she didn't bother to touch the piano anymore.

So what kind of parent are you? Would you push your children to do something they didn't like?

Here are two sides to the argument:

  1. You know it is good for them e.g. the acquisition of knowledge and skill, the discipline etc.... You are the parent and know better. They will thank you in the future. Suffer now but they will reap the benefits later. You want to teach them not to quit halfway, that they must finish what they start.

  2. It is tooo stressful, for you and for them. You are tired of the screaming and the nagging. You wonder if you are doing the right thing by 'forcing' them to do something they don't like. You'd hate it if someone did the same to you. You don't want to create a hatred or aversion to learning. Plus, if they don't enjoy and have no interest in the activity, what are they actually learning?
I was fortunate to have parents that didn't push me to do things I didn't like. I too had taken piano lessons when younger but decided to quit after my grade 5 exam. I can still tinker on the piano. I admit I'm glad to have been given the opportunity to study music. If I was given a second chance, I still will quit at grade 5 :) Hahahahah.

I believe that many times, the decisions we make as parents are guided by the things we had or didn't have. For example, you didn't learn Mandarin when you were younger and regret now that you don't know how to speak the language, even though you are Chinese. Therefore, you make a vow that you will "make" your children learn Mandarin whether they like it or not.

Our past experiences makes us 'wiser' than our children, however it may also be a tool that can do a lot of damage. I'm sure you've heard of parents trying to live their dreams through their children? On one hand you are here to guide them but on the other hand, you also need to give them freedom to live their life.

Anyway, write in and let me know your views on this. Would you or wouldn't you push your child to do something that you think is important, but they think is 'boring', 'waste-of-time', 'uninteresting', 'not-my-cup-of-tea' etc.... When should you endure and when should you quit?


  1. i was abt to write a post of me being a pushy parent!! not for music which she love but for mandarin classes, which she hates!

  2. I still remember the torturing days practising "scale" n spending at least one hour daily.I made it thru though...

  3. hey, sounds like soemthing i am going through. me and my siblings grew up in an environment where our parents practically 'pushed' us to play the piano, swim, golf.. it wasn't fun but looking back, i am glad that they did cos all this helped us "survived" when we grew up. I believe at least learning music and swimming is important whether they like it or not. Besides, the kids are not in the position to decide for themselves. Its easier to learn things when we are younger than older. However, letting the kids decide will depend entirely how motivated they are. Just my 2 cents. meishi

  4. When I was 5, I hated piano lessons and my Mom was about to pull me out when the teacher said I had special talent and not to quit just yet. I am glad now that I didn't because I finished off my Grade 8 and taught piano for awhile and in future can teach my own children (I think?). It's a nice skill to have anyway.

    I was also pushed into swimming training which I thought was quite a chore for a schoolkid to rush from school everyday to swim for 2-3 hours. I hated that too. And now, despite the fact that I can swim and again can teach it to my own children, dislike the fact that I have extra broad shoulders owing to swimming.

    However, as for Tee, I have no intentions of pushing her into doing anything. I will expose her to activities and gauge where she fits in. At most, I will be creative and TRICK her into liking a particular activity but if that still doesn't work, then I'll give it a rest. However, I do feel that a big part lies in the approach. If the approach was right, if you found a way to click into the psyche of your child, you'd be able to gain his interest in a particular activity.

  5. Mommy of 2 angels:
    Read your post on this. I hope your it eventually works out well for your daughter.

    Mummy to qiqi:
    Ah yes, the scales. I hated the exams and that is what made me quit.

    Mei Shi,
    My dad also 'pushed' me a little with my golf. I was just lazy but enjoyed playing. Maybe that's the 'key' -- push if it's because of laziness, quit pushing if they really despise it?

  6. Big Pumpkin:
    Sounds like a good plan - tricking them into liking the activity. Sneaky mommy. Yes, I agree that our approach makes a big difference. Some children can be very, very stubborn and decide to totally shut off their mind if the parents insist on pushing them on.
    But sounds like your mother's pushing did you good.
    My approach is similar to yours. I am all for exposure but will not force my kids into anything. If they are good at something, I believe thats a good enough motivator for them to continue on. By nature I'm quite laid back and a strong advocate for a STRESS-FREE life. Hence, my tendency to choose quit instead of endure :)

  7. Very meaningful post u have here.. i was just post something abt learning music in my blog yesterday, thot to give Jer to learn at his younger age.
    But .... my plan might not be success if he dun like music. As for me, if everything allow and going smooth, will and must at least let him try for the beginning see how things goin on, see he like it or not. Make it more fun for him . If he really hate it until become a stress for both ... i think better quit... depend on situation too.
    Agreed with what big pumpkin giving his thought ."""If the approach was right, if you found a way to click into the psyche of your child, you'd be able to gain his interest in a particular activity.""""
    It's will surely need sometime to gain their interest .

  8. I will introduce those course or activities which I hope they will learn to my child. If they show no interest, I will not push them to do. I believe that only when a person has the interest, he/she will excel in that sports or music. I let my child to choose what he really wants if those tat I select he does not seem to have much interest :)

    I played the piano till grade 6 & gave up after that due to school work & the costly school fees. My sis din put the pinao cert to much use to. She has a grade 8 cert. :)

  9. Hi L--wonderful post and good questions!

    Hmmmm .... if there's so much pressure and conflict on both sides, maybe it's not the subject that's the issue but the approach to presenting it.

    From what I've seen, we tend to have our children learn a subject by keeping them sitting still too long. Music lessons--they must sit and learn!
    Reading---they must sit and learn!
    Writing--they must sit and learn!
    ...and so forth.

    They're sitting longer then they are able to. It seems that children get uncomfortable after a period of sitting (something about exercising large muscles).

    In many instances if the lessons are broken up into very short periods, followed by something that allows the child to move around and then later bring them back to the lesson for another short period, many kids resist less and get greater benefit from the experience.

    Many times they also resist the repitition because they "think" they already have "mastered" that little skill.

    It's never wise to push a child to the point of conflict. No one really benefits emotionally.

    Great post, thank you (smile)!

  10. I try to expose my gal to as many things as possible & if she shows some interest in a certain thing, then I will give here a little nudge in that direction. Like u say, push if laziness but stop if really dislike.

  11. For me, I will not push my children into anything but I would let them try everything.

  12. Anggie's journal:
    With young kids, "fun" is very important. Sometimes we forget that "fun" = "learning". Somehow, we have picked up the idea that to be serious in learning, there must be no fun. I too agree with Big Pumpkin's idea.

    It's true that "excellence" is usually achieved when there is interest and desire. I guess as parents we have to ask if we want the child to just learn something or do we want them to excel.

    Great observation. I blogged about this at my other blog - how study breaks can help children focus better.
    Yes, the approach we use is important. We have to break away from conventional ways and that means extra' effort on the part of the parent.

    Blur Mommy:
    I'm with you both. Nudge, nudge okaylah. Push until my blood pressure go up, I cannot take lah.

    I too hope to expose my kids to many things. Unfortunately, these many things will add up to a very expensive bill. Sigh!

  13. I think it depends on how important and how they will benefit from it. If it's just a music lesson, I will not force them if they don't like it. There are several options for them to choose from which will also make a good investment.

  14. Interesting discussion.
    My answer would be yes. The kids may not appreciate our efforts, but I believe they will do so in the future.

  15. Are you learning Chinese? How long time do you learn Chinese and mandarin? Do you want to know your current level and achievement? I suggest you spend 5 minutes to know your Chinese level through watching a video on http://hello-mandarin.blogspot.com

  16. Learning the piano may be difficult for beginners but as long as you're eager to learn and with constant practice sooner you'll be surprise you can play like a pro :D


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