I know we have a number of parents and teachers on this forum. I have an important question for you.
I need to learn a number of effective strategies to get children to pay attention during their piano lessons with me. Knowing that I need to be more forceful or whatever isn't enough because it doesn't come naturally. I need specific things to say and do that I can draw from. Also, new perspectives on it entirely are appreciated. The children are usually happy, sometimes a little excited to be at the lesson, but can get kind of naughty. There are two categories of issues:
The first is with very young children (one is still three about to turn four) who simply cannot listen, but are just wiggly and jabbery. This has at times concluded with someone's feet sticking straight up in the air and they weren't mine. Sometimes these kids needed a snack, or it was too late in the day, etc.
The second group are elementary aged-children who want to show they can do it all by themselves rather than following instructions. I don't have trouble letting them do this, and my issue is that I let them interrupt me to do it too often. One little boy who idolizes his father who is in the military was completely beside himself the day his father brought him to the lesson. We got through part of the middle section of "Indiana Jones" on the piano, but he couldn't focus. I also have a first or second grade girl who is illegally cute, but also quite naughty. She wants to spend the whole lessons digging around in the music supplies to find fun stuff to play with instead of playing the piano. I'm also not sure of this, but I think she pretends to be confused about playing a song and makes mistakes as a funny game for attention. I don't want to make the mistake of assuming that it is a game if she is actually confused, which she sometimes is.
As a person, it is not natural for me to tell people what to do. I have tried to take a firmer approach to get their attention. I do have lots of fun games we take a break away from the piano to play, we also tell stories at the piano with sound effects. For their notereading and other tasks, I make sure they have sticker books and materials that make it more interesting and fun. I know that my presence is non-threatening which has some advantages for this kind of thing because the children feel comfortable, but I also am not as forceful as I should be. Some of the parents have said that the child is constantly testing boundaries at home as well. I know it isn't entirely me that generates the issue, but it is me who needs to solve it in this context.
I look forward to reading your ideas and experiences.