IMPROV PARENTING: YES, AND
We've previously covered part of the first rule of improv - to agree by saying YES, which we've translated into listening.
Yes, I hear you.
I care about you.
Your needs matter to me.
Different from agreement, saying YES is about being fully present, unattached to agenda and being open to whatever the other player (your child!) is offering. Now the collaboration can begin.
The first rule of improv is
"Yes, and" represents accepting (considering, hearing, not necessarily agreeing with) what your child has offered, and adding to it.
Yes, I hear you... AND...
Adding to the scene is so important because it invites mutual respect. I want to see the situation from your perspective (that's the YES), and I want you to see this situation from my perspective too (that's the AND). The parent models this practice of empathetic listening, which helps the child to feel understood, AND also the parent demonstrates that his needs matter equally. He wants the child to understand his experience as well so that they can collaborate in finding a solution where ideally, both players' needs can be met.
Let's break it down:
YES = I hear you. You seem really focused. It looks like you just want to keep playing.
(you've reflected how they feel and what they want)
AND = I want you to hear me too. I am concerned because I want to make it to the dentist appointment on time.
(you've added to the scene by offering what you need too.)
Holding both people's needs equally.
YES, AND = I see how much you want to keep playing, and I want to get to the dentist on time. How can we figure this out so that you can play and we aren't late?
This is where the brainstorming happens. Depending on the age of your child, with practice, this collaboration becomes routine and can be quick, easy and even fun. I've heard some creative, hilarious, brilliant ideas come from my kids, sometimes they're better than what I had imagined.
Keep in mind that we are only limited by our own creativity. So, keep an open-mind and the next time your child blocks you when you're trying to get something done, try "Yes, and..."