The power of building positive parent/child relationships—a Kaleidoscope Project best practice—is made clear in the "Still Face" Experiment. In the experiment, a mother denies her baby attention for a short period of time to show how prolonged lack of attention can move an infant from good socialization, to periods of bad (but repairable) socialization. Below, you can watch the experiment, conducted by Ed Tronick, director of UMass Boston's Infant-Parent Mental Health Program


The benefits of positive relationship building are clear. Here are a few tips to help parents and caregivers begin to build these essential bonds:

  • Use toys and activities that encourage communication and cooperation among children, parents/guardians, caregivers, staff members, and others within the space. For example, imitation play, where kids use dolls to reenact scenes from everyday life, is a strong communication builder. Kids can give dolls and puppets voices and personalities, two strong components of communication. Toy kitchen and cooking sets offer familiarity to kids, and parents can ask them to serve tea, encourage them to stir the soup, and create their own concoctions.

  • ​​Develop and display activities that allow multiple groups to play at the same time, including open-ended activities like unit blocks, magna-tiles, LEGO bricks, play dough, and sensory tubs. 

  • ​Use the appropriate response to children's needs based on age and development. Children develop at different stages, and it’s important to keep that in mind when interacting with children individually and as a group.

  • Provide opportunities for children to play together, solve conflicts in productive ways, and participate in group activities. Dramatic play situations offer endless options. For example, create a restaurant with play food, menus, notebooks to write out orders, a cash register to pay, and more. Not only are children working on important collaboration and social/emotional skills, but you have just added math and literacy elements. 


As Kaleidoscope knows, and the "Still Face" Experiment proves, humans are social beings who thrive on healthy relationships. Parent/child engagement and relationship-building is fundamental in enhancing the life of children, and fortunately, it’s never too early, or too late, to begin.