What I Gather About Disciplined Children

Ava started playing the violin just before she turned six, almost four years ago.  I remember early on posting a Facebook status, complaining about the stress around violin practice times.  I was half wanting to vent, half wanting advice from more seasoned parents.

The overwhelming advice?  Let her quit.

It was shocking to this then 28 year old mother.  It had never crossed my mind to let her quit.  I began evaluating whether or not I was expecting too much and whether the arguments were even worth it.

I then had the realization…. which I think I knew all along….. that children need discipline.

I came from a disciplined home.  My father worked hard at being a successful attorney and at his role as pastor.  My mother kept a clean and organized home and had dinner on the table every single night.  My parents set high expectations for me.  It never crossed my mind to argue with them about chores (until I was a teenager) or bring home a grade that was less than my best.  At church, I knew the behavioral expectations.  I easily sat quietly through an hour long Bible lesson when I was still in the single digits.  I prayed and read my Bible daily because that was the behavior that was modeled to me.

It has certainly been a challenge to remain disciplined in my adult life, but I am so grateful for the lessons taught to me as a young child.  The discipline of my childhood has served me well in my adult life.

I hear people all the time criticizing my generations and the generations younger than me.  Perhaps we set the bar too low and expect too little of our kids, and that translates to entitled, lazy, undisciplined children?

Violin is hard to learn and my daughter complains about practicing?  Let her quit.

It is easier to do the housework myself than to force my children to help.  I’ll just do it all.

My life is too busy.  My kids will be fine without a routine.

It is hard teaching my children to sit through a church service.  We just won’t go.

My kids are so disrespectful but I don’t have it in me to have one more intervention.  I’ll let it slide.

These are tendencies I struggle with daily.  Sometimes it is easier to just let it slide, give up and take the path of least resistance.  I find myself taking this path all too often.  But isn’t this a battle worth fighting?  I see enormous potential in my children, and I want to give them the tool of self-discipline.  I know it will serve them well, as it has served me well.

I’m certainly not an advocate for pushing our children beyond their limitations or fighting every. single. battle.  I don’t believe that creates a nurturing environment or a house that has any fun, for that matter.

But the beautiful thing about teaching our kids discipline is that somewhere down the road, they begin to see the payoff.  It took over three tumultuous years of violin practices and lessons before Ava began to make beautiful music.  She still has a long way to go, but she can take on and conquer a beautifully challenging song.  Ava recognizes that her hard work and dedication is paying off and that she has learned to play a very difficult instrument.  The battles come with less and less frequency.

So to all of you who told me to let her quit, I respectfully disagree.


In what ways do you teach your kids self-discipline?  Sports?  Schoolwork?  Chores?  At church?  In what areas do you not compromise?  In what areas are you more flexible?  Do you agree with me that lessons of self-discipline will help with entitlement mentality?  I would love your feedback!  Especially from all of the seasoned parents out there!

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  1. belinda says

    Thank you for posting this. I struggle too with wanting to give in but knowing that there’s a greater lesson to be gained than my immediate comfort of not wanting to hear the arguments and fussing. We have the same issues with Karah and piano. It’s all I can do to remain sane when she needs to practice (daily most of the time). In fact, it has become dads job to help her because I get so impatient with her that I end up yelling or just letting her slide. But I don’t want to do that for 2 reasons.

    1. I don’t want her thinking when things get too hard someone will tell her you gave it a good effort so just quit its not worth that much aggravation.

    2. Musically I’m living through her…I never had the chance to take music lessons like all of my cousins did(piano). My parents just didn’t have the money. I would look longingly at the music books they had, and sit quietly by and stare at how they played and read their music..but more often than not, I’d sit crushed as I’d hear time after time until no more argument to we’re made at being “forced” to practice. This happened with every one of my cousins almost every single day. I wished someone would make me practice I would think to myself. Don’t they realize its such a gift?

    Well looking at grown ups now they were all glad they had that time even if they don’t all use the ability anymore. One of them happens to be a pastors wife so she is really glad. But I did end up playing the clarinet and violin whe. I was in elementary and middle school. I learned a lot and enjoyed it greatly but was never able to have formal lessons other than while in school. I did however take a few years of piano when I moved out on my own as a teenager but it never went we’ll so I just resigned myself to play by ear because reading notes was too frustrating for me.

    This is my biggest issue with Karah…I wished that I had taken piano along with or even before I learned to play violin and clarinet. I had gotten so used to playing one note at a time and always treble clef that I simply could not train my mind and eyes to do more than that as It felt overwhelming. So with Karah, we have told her that music is a basis for other things in her life. Many studies have shown that kids who learn a musical instrument do well at other things academically as well as socially. Plus you learn discipline and self respect too. And so we know that when she finally gets to the stage of being able to sit and play something new and something she’s interested in, it will make sense to her why she had to practice so hard in the beginning. She recently did this with an old songbook of mine sitting out where she played one note in right and left hands to play a little of amazing grace. She was so excited that the notes kind if made sense to her and she played a “real” song she said. So we have told her at least 3 years to get a good foundation musically and to see what she can accomplish. Then if she wants to quit or change instruments we will be very open to letting her decide.

    This is controversial I’m sure, but we’ve even started “paying her” to complete her piano books. Granted it takes her 4-6 months to complete it for $20 but its work to her and not her regular homework so it rewards her and she feels like she’s getting something for her efforts.

    Thanks for sharing. We agree again :)))

    • Rachael says

      I loved reading about your experience with Karah! Thanks for sharing. I recently talked to Ava’s violin teacher and she recommended giving her some kind of reward when she has a positive attitude and successful practice time. So we made a chart, and for every positive practice she had, she got a sticker. When she had 20 or 25 (I can’t remember which), she got to pick something out at the store. It was the best $20 investment, so I’m all for you paying Karah to finish a book! I think it teaches them that hard work pays off!

      Thanks for commenting and great job encouraging her to stick with it! She will be grateful someday :)

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