Children are master pretenders. They don’t just play a part. They play all the parts. They work through their issues over and over. One day you’ll see playmobile figures crying for mommy. Another you will overhear one being mean to the others. And of course there are the uncomfortable times when you see lots of figures missing limbs – or their heads! It’s a scary world and there is much readying to do.

Practice makes perfect. Theater skills are central to our children’s development, helping them understand and manage how they express themselves with their bodies, voices and words. Self-expression in context. Social skills. After all, we all know that “all the world is a stage,” right?

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And as our kids grow, the need to identify and find their own cliques increases. They adjust their behavior to show belonging – to tell the world very clearly ‘here’s who I am (today). I am like these friends.” If they shift groups, their behavior will shift as well. We may see a new child come through the door at night. Defining who they are is important and difficult work.

So, welcome to the dramatic world of theater in kids’ everyday lives. It isn’t easy becoming who they need to be.  They can experience stage fright just walking down the hall, well aware they are being watched and judged. It can be brutal. Let’s engage them in comfortable conversations about the forces at play. If we can stay connected, they will have the social skills and self-awareness necessary for a healthy sense of agency in their own lives.

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