3 Top Tips For Raising Co-operative Kids!

Raising co-operative children is key to a peaceful and pleasant home-life.

Lack of cooperation is the underlying factor to almost all parent/child challenges regardless of the age of your child. Whether it is picking up their toys, doing their homework or respecting their curfew…they all require the spirit of cooperation.

The lack of cooperation is what fuels the frustration parents feel.
  •  "Why doesn’t she listen?”
  •  “I have to tell her/him over and over to do the same thing.”
  •  “The simplest task becomes a battle!”
  •  “He knows he is supposed to make his bed every morning!”
  •  “I have to get angry before she does what she is supposed to do.”
  •  “It’s as if he doesn’t care!”
These are the some of the most common complaints I hear from parents. I am sure you could add a few of your own. Based on my over 25 years experience working with children combined with the nature of human instincts I have formulated the top 3 components of creating a co-operative relationship. In order to turn an uncooperative atmosphere around to reflect a desired cooperative relationship, we need to first examine the dynamics of the request for cooperation.

It will be helpful to begin by asking yourself a few questions.
  • What motivates me to be cooperative?
  • When am I most receptive to the needs and desires of others?
  • Does my attitude have a direct connection to how I am approached?
  • Am I more apt to try my best when my efforts are noticed and appreciated?
By asking yourself these questions and spending some time honestly evaluating your answers you will begin to see the most important step to raising co-operative kids is how they are approached.

Tip #1

Enlist their “help”
Your child’s response will directly reflect the way you approach them. If you “order” or “demand” your child to do what you would like them to do, you have set the tone of negativity…and negativity is what you will without a doubt receive.

For example, think about how you would feel if your boss or co-worker approached you and said, “Go get the financial report done now!”

Of course you would comply out of a sense of duty because it is your job and you want to keep your job but what if your job wouldn't be in jeopardy? Would you willingly with a happy heart tend to the report putting your best foot forward or would you grumble and complain doing what you had to do feeling you are not respected as a human being?

However, if your boss or co-worker approached you and said, “Good morning Mary, You are just the person I need this morning! I have a meeting at 10:00 and I really need to have the financial report completed. Would you mind doing that first thing this morning? It would be so helpful to have the figures during the meeting.”

Being asked rather than ordered puts everything in a more positive tone. When you are asked you feel respected and honored as a person. When you are feeling respected and in a positive frame of mind you want to do your best, you want to help.

Applying this same theory to how you approach your children will also produce a response of taking pleasure in doing what you want them to do.

Picking up toys…
For instance, let’s say you would like your 4 yr old to pick up his toys at the end of each day. Rather than simply issuing an order, “Tommy it is close to bed-time, pick up your toys.”, you could say “Tommy, it would be such a huge help if all of your toys were put away so the floors are cleared because I am planning on vacuuming first thing tomorrow morning. Would you please make sure all of your toys are back in their place before bed-time?”

Children love to feel helpful. 

Doing their homework…
Let’s look at another scenario. When dealing with the subject of homework you could approach your 12 yr old when he gets home from school by saying, “Get your homework done now” or you could say, “I have to finish the laundry this afternoon and I know you have homework to do so let’s get our jobs done right away so that we can have the evening free to watch a movie or play a board game together.”

This approach sends the message that we all have responsibilities that must be honored. In addition you have expressed your desire to spend quality time together which displays the benefit of tending to responsibilities.  Your child receives the message and feels he is a part of a team that is working toward the same goal…tending to responsibilities in order to have free time for something else.

Respecting their curfew…
Teens and curfew are at the top of many parent’s frustration list. “Be home by midnight” somehow is translated into the teenage mind as “Closer to 1:00 am!”

In keeping with the theory that it is more productive and successful to ask rather than demand or order, a conversation about why you would appreciate their cooperation in regards to honoring their curfew would be a positive approach.

“The movie you are going to see with your friends sounds really great! Have a great time! Please remember that I have to be at work at 8:00 am tomorrow so it would really help me get a good night sleep if you were back by midnight.”

In all of the example scenarios, the common thread is to approach your children with an attitude of respect. Through your attitude and tone of voice you are implying they have a choice. Even though you have not verbally stated they have a choice, the implication is an acknowledgment of their power and right to choose. And that is what will prompt them to want to co-operate.

Tip #2

Praise for effort
Once you have approached your child in a positive way and they have responded by co-operating it is important to pay attention during your child’s effort to comply with your wishes. While your child is complying with your wishes as you requested, praise them for their efforts. Let them know that you are aware of the fact that they are being cooperative. Acknowledge and verbalize your appreciation.

Picking up toys…
“I see you have been working really hard at getting your toys picked up! And they look so nice all back on the shelves so neatly. Now you will know exactly where they are when you want to play with them again. Great job!”

Doing their homework…
“How is your homework going? I see you have really stayed focused and already have your math homework done! I have one more load of laundry to dry and fold…I am looking forward to spending time with you after dinner. Have you thought about what you would like to do…a movie or a game?”
Respecting their curfew…
“Thanks for being mindful of your curfew. I am really so proud of you when you show a sense of maturity and consideration.”
Tip #3

Appreciate their contribution
Children thrive on being appreciated and respected. Again, think back at how you felt when you did something for someone that you know they needed and wanted you to do and there was no acknowledgment. Were you discouraged and disappointed that your efforts went unnoticed? What was your gut reaction the next time they asked you to do something? Did you do it with a happy heart and out of a desire to be helpful or did you go through the motions begrudgingly?

Paying attention and expressing your appreciation to your children for not only complying with your request but doing it in a co-operative manner will impact them in a way that makes them feel good about themselves. They will be inspired to continue in a cooperative manner and they will remember how they like feeling that they are a positive part of what happens in their home and in their lives. Being cooperative will feel good to them.

Children want to feel a sense of belonging. When they choose to act in a way that contributes to the well being of the family atmosphere they gain a sense of pride. They are proud of themselves for making a positive contribution!
Picking up toys…
“You know my job to vacuum this morning went so smoothly because you had all your toys already picked up. It didn’t take me near as long and now I have extra time to do something else!”

Doing their homework…
“This is wonderful that we completed our jobs this afternoon and can now get to enjoy this movie together…such a great way to end our day!”

Respecting their curfew…
“I felt so rested today at work! Because I knew you were home safely last night, I was able to sleep so peacefully. I love going to work with a rested mind and body.”
Using these three simple steps will enhance your child’s feeling of value. Understanding how their choices affect others will instill in them a sense of personal responsibility for their choices…not only in their lives but in the lives of those around them.

When children feel good about themselves they are motivated to make better choices. Feeling valued and respected will build their self-esteem and self-image. And all of that translates to a pleasant, cooperative and joyful relationship.

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