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  • Practice Makes Perfect: 5 Ways To Motivate Your Child To Keep Working On Difficult Skills

    One step is to know that talent isn’t everything.
    by Kate Borbon . Published Nov 25, 2019
Practice Makes Perfect: 5 Ways To Motivate Your Child To Keep Working On Difficult Skills
  • Parents want their kids to succeed in whatever they do in life. But before that success can be achieved, kids first need to learn that success is not an overnight thing; rather, it requires a lot of hard work and discipline, which can be developed through the habit of practice.

    Even in the first years of life, parents can already start instilling in their children the importance of practice—in particular, the technique of deliberate practice, which is all about repeatedly working on a skill to get better in the future.

    Researcher Lauren Eskreis-Winkler and her colleagues explain that deliberate practice has four principles:

    • Working on your weaknesses
    • Concentrating fully on the task
    • Asking for feedback
    • Practicing until you master the skill
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    How to motivate your child to practice hard things

    Based on the four principles of deliberate practice, here are some things you can use to motivate your child to practice hard skills, whether these are tricky school subjects, a certain musical instrument, or a sport.

    1. Expect and accept failure.

    Even the most successful people in the world will say that they experienced failures before achieving success. Boost your child’s morale by reminding her that failure is a vital part of deliberate practice that can teach her important life lessons.

    2. Teach her how to tolerate frustration.

    Whenever your child encounters setbacks, she might feel discouraged, frustrated, or want to give up. But as Greater Good Magazine writes, the process of deliberate practice “can be frustrating and confusing, but it means you’re in the ‘stretch zone.’” In other words, it is during these periods of disappointment when she should keep going. Eventually, she can learn to tolerate those feelings by herself.

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    3. Know that talent isn’t everything.

    Sometimes, you might hear your child saying that she failed because she's "not good or smart enough." Help her remember that it's by practicing that she will get the results she wants and not just by relying on any talent.


    4. Give her feedback.

    Asking someone to give you feedback on your work is another key part of deliberate practice as it helps you understand where you made mistakes and how you can improve. Aside from checking on your child’s performance, you can also try talking to her teacher or coach about what they think she needs to work on to perform better.

    5. Encourage her to imagine the future.

    Try asking your child to think about how it would make her feel to master a skill she needs to work on. For example, if she doesn’t want to practice playing the piano, have her imagine what it would feel like to finish a musical piece at a recital. Simply asking her to do this might be enough to bring back her motivation to practice.

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