I took my youngest daughter to a playdate at a swimming pool over the holidays.

I met a new mum there and we got chatting.
She asked me what I do for work and I explained how I help children find their musical spirits using the piano as a vehicle for self expression.

“So, you’re a piano teacher”
Well, yeah, but I like my description better.
OK, I didn’t really say any of that.
I said I had my own business teaching music.
Anyway, she mentioned in our conversation that she had learnt herself as a child but she didn’t want to ‘force’ her child to play.

It got me thinking about what I ‘force’ my children to do and was surprised at the length of the list!

However, I prefer to use the terms non-negotiable or require or perhaps enforce which is really what I’m talking about, but for the sake of this exercise I will use the word ‘force’.
I ‘force’ my children to brush their teeth.
This is because I value healthy teeth.

I ‘force’ my children to go to school
This is because I value education

I ‘force’ my children to do their homework
This is because I value this habit for study in later years.

I ’force’ my children to participate in a least one extra-curricular activity.
This is because I value them making friends outside of school

I ‘force’ my children to do age appropriate chores at home
This is because I value teaching them skills they will need when they eventually move out of home
(hopefully not too soon with all this ‘forcing!’)

I ’force’ my children to get off their devices after a certain amount of time.
This is because I value healthy brain development.

and I ’force’ my children to participate in my piano classes.

I know.
Shock! Horror.

This is because the science indicates that music helps them in so many ways and I’ve witnessed the immense rewards they experience on the other side of normal childhood resistance.

They get to choose so many of their other activities for themselves but music is certainly non-negotiable.

So, what do you value? It might be different for you, which obviously is absolutely fine.

At the end of the day though, in my humble opinion, we are going to ‘force’ our children to do what we value and believe is in their very best interests.

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