For many many years, I have told parents that in order to have less arguments about practicing they need to set a practice routine. What I mean by that is that they need to have a specific time of day when they practice. Ideally this means that when that time comes the kids and parents both know it is time to practice. It doesn't matter if this is at 7:00 am, 3:00 pm, or 10:00 pm. What matters is that it is part of the family's daily routine.
When my daughter began playing the violin at the age of two (this was her choice – not mine!) we did not set a specific time to practice. Honestly, it never even crossed my mind to try it even though I had been giving this advice to parents for years. Well, there were A LOT of arguments about practicing. Alena flat out refused most of the time. And when she DID want to practice I didn't. Eventually I let her quit the violin altogether.
About a year later, I decided to start her on the cello. I thought that maybe there would be less resistance to it since I didn't play it. Things were fine for a while, but it still never occurred to me to set a practice routine and make it part of our daily lives. The arguments began. The resistance began. My frustration mounted. After a while it became very difficult - and because of Alena's seizures, it became almost impossible. We put the cello away for a while. It was still there, but we didn't practice.
When we enrolled Alena and Aidan at the school where I teach, I signed them both up for Suzuki lessons through the program offered at the school. I knew that it would be fantastic for them. But, because I was so immersed in teaching all day, practicing didn't go all that well. For any of us.
Then one day I woke up and though "maybe we should set a practice routine"! DUH! Why hadn't I thought of that before??
The very next day we decided that the best time of day to practice for us was at 7:00am - after school didn't work - we were all just too exhausted from our days by then. Now, every day, the kids get up, get dressed, eat, and then when 7:00 rolls around we practice. There are still arguments, but not as many. The kids and I both know that 7:00 is practice time. Sometimes they don't want to. Sometimes I don't want to. But at 7:00 am we practice.
It works for us. And we've been doing it for over a year now. Try it!