A favorite moment in our Parent + Child Workshop is when children and parents switch roles.*
Children dress up as parents (yes, we do costumes).
The tykes also get to speak like Mom and Dad. (Yay…or Oh, oh?)
Parents take on the role of the child. Discovery time…
When Learning is Fun
Do you know people succeed better when they feel better?
That’s why we make learning fun.
The youngsters playing Dad donned ties (vintage 1970’s, no less) and the top hats. We accessorized actresses in the mother role and wrapped them in scarves.
To help children get into their roles, we stood them up on a ledge so that they would, physically, be looking down at their “kids.”
Positive energy and excitement flowed. Parents (acting as kids) grinned at the fun.
Scene 1 – Surprise
In line with our theme of the day, Stop Repeating Yourself – Create a Culture of Listening, the children performed phrases they often hear from their parents.
Without prompting each young actor interpreted his phrase with an “appropriate” tone of voice. It went like this:
“Put your coat on.”
“BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!!!”
Parents (acting as kids) now wore these expressions on their faces…
“W.O.W. What an ‘Aha! Moment!'”
“They are barking at me!”
“I don’t want to do any of those things. It’s so demotivating.”
Scene 2 – Engagement
We went for another round of phrases from the moms and dads (played by the children). This time they asked questions instead of giving instructions.
“What should you wear so you won’t be cold?”
“What words could you use so that I hear you?”
“How will you keep your teeth from hurting?”
As the parent actors spoke their lines, we heard other children spontaneously answer the questions. “Coat” “Please” “Brush teeth”
Stepping Back to Move Forward
Debrief time. So, folks, what happened?
“We talked nicer the second time,” piped up a girl swirling her beads.
“I knew the answers,” proudly announced a youngest sibling.
The group of parents (acting as children) recuperated their smiles.
“They were expecting a response from me,” shared an engaged parent.
“It made me think,” admitted a dad enjoying a weekend off of work.
“I want to speak this way in our home, but what questions should I ask?!!!!” exclaimed a mother stepping back into her parenting role.
What generated the transformation in responses?
We replaced distancing commands with engaging questions that still “get the job done.”
This type of questioning is a tool from Positive Discipline, a science-based approach to building collaborative relationships. It enables parents to be BOTH Firm AND Kind SIMULTANEOUSLY. The expected results are crystal clear AND the exchange emanates warmth and connection.
Chez Vous – In YOUR Home
What are the phrases you repeat, repeat, and REPEAT?
What questions that “get the job done” could you ask instead?
Want some help? Jot us a note. We answer with a smile.
*This role-play is inspired by a Positive Discipline activity developed by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.