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
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.