I have a kid, 13 years old, male. He is very talented in musical instruments, especially viola.

Recently he was asked to perform in a wedding event, along with other kids ( his cousins). He was very enthusiastic when the event organizer communicated the desire to have him on stage for performance, and he volunteered himself to be the head of the performance group.

I was happy to see that he was willing to commit himself and to take a leading role. So I just let him be, let him arrange the time of practice, let him does the song selection, let him decides what to wear etc.

A few days passed, and there was no news on his part. So I went up to ask him what preparation he did thus far. He said he hadn't prepared. I then reminded him to call his group members together and start practicing immediately, lest they didn't have enough time later.

A few days more passed, and there was no practice still. I was getting worried. I don't want to force him to start practicing, and I don't want to manage him by calling for meetings and setting practice sessions; for the sake of his development, it is far better if he himself can take the initiative to drive the practice sessions.

My kid is an optimistic chap with a tendency to overestimate his own ability. He told me not to worry as he could manage it well. But the last time I saw it, he was also this optimistic and in the end, the optimism caused him to blow his performance up, right on the stage. He was very upset over this and vowed never to let it happen again. But now, he seems to have forgotten all these embarrassing experience.

It seems that he can't be held accountable for his action. What can I do?

1 Answer 1


I think being held accountable is not the right phrase or approach here. what you are hoping for is to encourage him to take responsibility and look ahead, but he isn't self-motivating.

You have obviously tried giving him freedom to self motivate, but that has not worked at this stage, so you need to now take control. One option is to tell him he won't get to play if he doesn't start practicing with the group.And be firm about this - he may say it's treating him like a child, but your response should be that until he can self motivate like an adult you will just have to keep treating him like a child.

This is an important part of learning: help them understand that it is a two sided agreement. You can give freedom and treat them like a grown-up, but they have to respect expectations and self-motivate.

  • One option is to tell him he won't get to play if he doesn't start practicing-- will that give him the feeling that I am seeking revenge and trying to get one-up at him? That would surely harden his resolve not to cooperate with me, don't you think so?
    – Graviton
    Sep 19, 2013 at 5:12
  • 1
    revenge? I have no idea how you come up with that. No, it is a simple consequence of actions. This happens in the real world - if you don't get the essentials done, and just mess around, you will lose your job, or fail a task etc.
    – Rory Alsop
    Sep 19, 2013 at 10:19

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