What is Connect the Dots?

Do you feel like it’s hard to enjoy these early years because you are too busy saying, “no, don’t, stop!” all the time?

Are you overwhelmed by all the tips and tricks out there and eager for something that’s easy to remember?

Connect the Dots highlight 4 easy-to-remember steps to address challenging behaviors. The 4 steps encompass both the “well-being” and the “well-doing” of children to ensure strong social and emotional skills needed for success in school and life. Connect the Dots resources and trainings are for anyone who works with children ages one to five years old. This universal tool can be used in any setting serving families and children by teaching children how to recognize and express their emotions appropriately.

Connect the Dots provides a common language and a common approach to addressing challenging behaviors in a way that builds strong social and emotional skills in young children.

The primary focus of Connect the Dots is on two protective factors from the Kentucky Strengthening Families framework: 1) Social and Emotional Competence of Children; and 2) Nurturing and Attachment.

Starter Tools

to learn more about Connect the Dots and social and emotional development

Features national and state resources, as well as handouts and other useful tools.


Ensure Supportive Environment

so the child feels safe, prepared and ready to succeed

Features support for scheduling, routines and transitions.



Encourage Positive Behaviors

to help the child link positive behaviors to healthy relationships

Features support for building positive relationships, helping children express their needs and expressing emotion.


Emphasize Positive Discipline

by teaching appropriate behaviors to meet the child’s needs

Features support for biting, aggressive behavior, giving clear directions and alternatives to saying “No.”



Embrace Unique Strengths

through nurturing individual differences and natural temperament

Features support for identifying negative behaviors as character strengths, coping with change and emotional intensity resources.



Positive Behavior Apps

to support social and emotional work at home and in the classroom

Features free and low cost apps




Connect the Dots/








Daily Vroom (FREE) helps parents and caregivers nurture their children’s growing minds during these earliest years. Daily Vroom turns everyday moments into brain building moments! Daily Vroom delivers a personalized brain building activity for your child every day. Each tip is paired with a science-based Brainy Background explaining how the activity supports your child’s brain development

iRedwardChart ($2.99 and iRewardChart Lite FREE) reinforces and rewards positive behaviors. It provides a customizable reward chart that can track an unlimited number of behaviors and rewards for multiple children, iRewardChart Lite (free version) allows only one child with a maximum of four behaviors without all of the main features.

Behavior Counter  ($0.99 app) is a very simple, no-frills offering that’s easy to use if you’re in need of nothing more complicated than a bare-bones tally system. There is some statistical support for data collection, which will allow you to determine triggers for bad behavior and their underlying causes

BehaviorSnap ($4.99): BehaviorSnap is a multimodal behavior observation tool created by school psychologists to identify the frequency, duration, and function of behaviors of interest.

Behavior Breakthroughs (FREE) The game-based technology of the free Behavior Breakthroughs app allows you to model your child’s behavior back to him through a digitized avatar on your iPhone. Seeing his own behavior reflected through the avatar can help him understand why certain choices are bad ones, encouraging him to choose more wisely next time

Social and Emotional Apps for Children:

Breathe, Think, Do, Sesame Street (FREE) is a resource app for you to share with your child to help teach skills such as problem solving, self-control, planning, and task persistence

Touch and Learn ($1.99) is focused on helping kids read body language and understand emotions by looking at pictures and figuring out which person is expressing a given emotion.

AvoKiddo Emotions ($2.99) gives your children a serious case of the giggles when you introduce them to a zany zebra, shy sheep, jolly giraffe and modest moose! Discover these emotions and more by dressing up, feeding, sharing toys and interacting with them using over 110 uniquely themed props in this endless play funhouse.

GoNoodle (FREE): Discover hundreds of videos that get your kids active at school and at home.

The Social Express ($5.99/mo and Social Express II (Select “try it”) FREE):. The curriculum is designed to teach users how to think about and manage social situations, helping them to develop meaningful social relationships and succeed in life.


What is Connect the Dots?

Connect the Dots is a joint collaboration between multiple early education and mental health specialists across Kentucky. The collaboration was built to address a common need: The need for a short yet powerful skills-based training teaching the basics of social and emotional best practices. Connect the Dots highlights 4 easy-to-remember steps to address challenging behaviors.

Another strategy for Connect the Dots is to enhance materials for specific child and family needs. The 4 steps serve as an umbrella to organize targeted social and emotional supports for different audiences. Specialists teach families the basics of all 4 steps and highlight specific tools they can use within each dot to meet their child’s specific needs.

What is Social and Emotional Development and Why is it Important?

American Academy of Pediatrics, Healthy Start
“Social emotional development is a fundamental part of a child’s overall health and well-being (…) Social emotional development is sometimes called early childhood mental health or infant mental health. It spans from how children interact with others to how they manage or cope with adversity and stress. Social emotional development within the first few years of life sets a precedent and prepares children to be self-confident, trusting, empathetic, intellectually inquisitive, competent in using language to communicate, and capable of relating well to others. Healthy social and emotional development refers to a child’s emerging ability to:

  • Experience, manage, and express the full range of positive and negative emotions,

  • Develop close, satisfying relationships with other children and adults, and

  • Actively explore their environment and learning.”

Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University
“Emotional well-being, social competence, and cognitive abilities together are the bricks and mortar that comprise the foundation of human development.”

Zero to Three
“Making friends. Showing anger in a healthy way. Figuring out conflicts peacefully. Taking care of someone who has been hurt. Waiting patiently. Following rules. Enjoying the company of others. All of these qualities, and more, describe the arc of healthy social-emotional development. Like any skill, young children develop these abilities in small steps over time.”



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For more information, contact laura.beard@ky.gov