5 Ways to Encourage Cooperation
I heard excited tones from across the room. Children had gathered around the block center in anticipation.
Four children had been working for the past fifteen minutes creating a structure. Their goal was to use every block in the center.
Making sure everyone had stepped back and out of the way, Elijah stood on his tip toes to reach across the broad base of their structure and set the final block in place exclaiming, “It’s the tallest tower ever!”
The class erupted,
“Wow, that’s so big!” … “I want to build one next!” … “I wonder how big it is?” … “It’s SO tall!”
A short while later, after putting away EVERY block in the center, we gathered together for our usual circle time.
The “Tallest Tower Ever” still fresh in the minds of these young children, we discussed an important lesson: When we cooperate with each other, we can reach goals that would otherwise be unattainable.
Away from the classroom, in the swing of the day to day, cooperation can seem a little more challenging to illustrate at times. However, with focused application, we can teach children this important character trait.
- Model cooperation. Share responsibilities from an early age. Demonstrate how to work together with others to reach a common purpose – even if that purpose is setting the table for dinner. Sharing age-appropriate responsibilities enables children to learn how we work together to reach a goal.
- Play games to encourage teamwork. This does not necessarily mean you should put your young child on a sports team. Still, expecting team work in the home can instill cooperation. Activities like playing games together in teams, cleaning up together to beat a timer, or simply building puzzles together enables children to learn how to work together.
- Take time to teach them how to problem solve. Part of cooperation is learning how to overcome challenges together. Help children learn how to identify a problem, think about different ways to solve that problem, and then encourage them to try out solutions. This process will take patience and practice, but the benefits of social problem solving extend into adulthood.
- Allow for choices. Providing choices about how or when to complete a task enables children to choose to be cooperative. Recognizing that cooperation is working together to reach a common goal, sometimes we as parents must allow some choice in the matter while still working with our children to meet the end goal.
- Use specific praise. When you observe children cooperating, praise them for working together. Try to be as specific as possible as you explain how your child demonstrated cooperation, “You and your sister were cooperating nicely when you worked together to complete the puzzle.”
Learning cooperation is necessary to a child’s social and emotional development. Being able to work together with others to reach a goal or overcome a challenge will set your child up for future success.
Brown, K. (2016, Feb. 22). “5 Tips for Teaching Cooperation.” Retrieved on August 1, 2016 from http://www.kidsintransitiontoschool.org/5-tips-for-teaching-cooperation/
Slover, D. (2011, March 5). “10 Ways to Teach Your Kids Cooperation.” Retrieved on August 1, 2016 from http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/10-ways-to-teach-your-kids-cooperation
Zero to Three. (2010, Feb. 20). “Tips on Helping Your Child Learn to Cooperate.” Retrieved on August 1, 2016 from http://www.zerotothree.org/child-development/social-emotional-development/tips-on-helping-your-child-cooperate.html