SEL Tip: Play, Connect, Believe

Girl Hanging on Monkey Bars (Portrait)


In a world full of parenting advice, we try to keep things simple.

We tell parents to keep just three things in mind as you try to foster an i-Can! environment at home:

  1. Play
  2. Connect
  3. Believe


Play: It’s fun AND It Builds Your Brain

Dr. Stuart Brown calls play, “The brain’s best form of exercise.” Research shows that play numerous benefits for both children and adults, including building:

  • Cooperation
  • Creativity
  • Empathy
  • Flexibility
  • Optimism
  • Problem Solving
  • Productivity
  • Resilience
  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Regulation

Get down on the floor and build something.  Indulge in make believe. Turn a boring household chore into a game. You’ll have fun AND set the stage for learning.


Connect: Become a Question Master


If you ask someone who works with children to describe what they’re like they might talk about the many unexpected questions and interesting ideas kids have. Build connections with your child through asking questions. Not sure where to start? Try one of these questions to get your kids talking:

  • What makes you feel happy/sad/frustrated/excited?
  • What is the best/worst part about being a kid?
  • What was your favorite/least favorite part of today?

For more information on the importance of connections and relationships, especially on the development of resilience check out this research from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child


Believe: Trust that Your Child Can, and Then Let Them Try


Imagine your child is learning how to tie her shoes, but she’s struggling.  You can either tie the shoe for her, or you can coach her through the process.  Show your child believe in their capacity to try, make mistakes, and learn by giving them the time to do things for themselves.

If you want to learn more about the power and effects of belief and mindset, check out research by Carol Dweck

Play, connect, believe is a virtuous cycle. The benefits from one reinforces the benefits from the other two. When you play and have fun with your child, you are creating the optimum space to connect with them. When you connect with your child and bring curiosity to your interactions, you hear their amazing ideas. Those amazing ideas serve as proof of the potential your child has to do amazing things. When you believe in their abilities, you encourage them to take on new and exciting tasks. Those tasks frequently lead to more playful interactions. And so the cycle continues!

Have fun playing, connecting, and believing this week!  And if you have a story, we’d love to hear it!