Q: Whenever I ask my 9-year-old to practice the piano, she complains. Is there some way to get her to stop arguing and just do it?
A: "Rather than using rewards and punishments as if this were a discipline problem, use this opportunity to practice conflict resolution," suggests James Windell, the author of 8 Weeks to a Well-Behaved Child.
First, says Windell, ask your child what is bothering her about piano practice. Does she dislike the music she's playing? Is she having trouble with a new piece? Would she prefer practicing at another time of day? Does she simply hate piano lessons?
"Once you find out what's behind the complaining, you can address that problem directly," says Windell. For example, if your child doesn't like what she's learning, you can ask her teacher about trying new types of music. "Once the underlying conflict is resolved, the complaining should end," notes Windell. "Children tend to be more cooperative when they feel they've had a say in things. The key is to get your child involved in brainstorming the solutions."