A while back I heard this NPR story about “special time” – as a magical tool to connect with kids and get them to listen better. It’s a framework for child-directed play. I’ve noticed when I spend more time doing this, my kid, Myron, does seem to connect with me more and listen more (usually he mostly wants mama for everything). The kind of play we do is usually imaginative play – earlier it was with dinosaurs. These days it is pretending to be superheroes. At the start of playtime, Myron tells us who to be. “I’ll be the red Spider Man and you be the black Spider Man”. And then he sets the scene.
“There’s a cat stuck in a tree.”
“Oh no. We’ve got to get the cat down.”
“Let’s transform into our Spidey costumes!”
One thing I realized is that this is basically improv. I say “yes and” and share in this constructed reality with Myron for a little while every day. I did a workshop a while back called Managing with an Improv Mindset which I still draw from sometimes. One of my close friends used to participate in a local improv team, and I used to go to a bunch of their performances. In a lot of ways, improv seems like just learning to be a kid again.