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Improvisational parenting, say yes, yes and, connection, parenting, respectful parenting, fun, empathetic listening

Recently, I co-hosted a super fun Improvisational Parenting workshop for parents interested in using the rules of improv to create more fun and connection in their parenting.

To me, there is nothing like a live gathering, where I get to see what comes up in the moment, I get to hear what people are thinking about/struggling with and with Katy, my co-host’s help, we got to play some improv games to understand how these rules of improv can apply in creative and funny ways. (She is a child psychologist, a trained actor and director, one of the funniest women I know - basically I hit the jackpot.)

The first rule of improvisation is


Slowing down, let's just start with the "YES" - to agree and SAY YES.

(I'll save the "AND" part for the next post.)

Saying yes is accepting another’s offer. When you are invited to participate in a dialogue and you say yes, collaboration begins. This requires a willingness to be open-minded and to respect what your partner is offering.

It is the opposite of a block.

Speaking of blocks…

Can you think of a time your child blocked you?

It may look like inaction, being ignored.

It may sound like a loud NO!

Can you think of a time you blocked your child?

Shut him down when you were trying to get out the door…

Didn’t answer when you were texting…

These are moments when we shut each other down. We are saying yes to something else, but not the other person. We are not collaborating and it leads to disconnection.

Here is a basic process you can incorporate into your routine to SAY YES more often to increase the connection and collaboration happening in your relationships.

1. LISTEN - saying “yes” doesn’t mean you agree necessarily, it simply means “yes, I hear you.” You offer your attention, your presence. You listen while they ask or state their case. You value their contribution.

2. GET CURIOUS - what does my child feel and need (or want) right now?

3. NOTICE ATTACHMENT - attachment to agenda interferes with true connection. Notice how your fixation on getting what YOU want blocks hearing what they want.

3. REFLECT - State your best guess of what their experience is.

When I see/hear …

It seems like you feel …

You really want to … right now.

So if your child is saying no - blocking collaboration - see this as an invitation to listen closely and can find the YES, to strengthen your connection.

When a person feels seen, heard and understood, often that is enough. Maybe you cannot give them what they want in the moment, but you can choose to listen. Through this listening, and reflecting back to them what we see and hear, we fill their need for mattering.

It doesn’t end at saying YES… With the next rule, "YES, AND" incorporates holding both people's needs equally. Stay tuned.


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