Though children love to showcase their talents and each new skill that they learn, it can be much harder to get to children to use these abilities to help others. Even thoughtful, consideration children need to be encouraged every now and then to cooperate with others. Thankfully this encouragement can take the form of simple statements and even fun games. If encouragement is needed when parents are not around, then thoughtful notes or other special reminders can convey the same messages.
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Encouraging Cooperation with Simple Statements
When children need to be encouraged to cooperate it is best to keep any statements to that effect simple. Lectures or longer explanations run the risk of losing a child’s attention or confusing the child. Instead, stating what you’d like (“I’d like it if you would come and help me clean up the toys”) or what the child will need to do (“Helping Timmy put away the toys would be very nice of you”) will help him or her learn concrete examples of how they can cooperate with others to reach a desired outcome. As children grow, describing a situation and allowing them to figure out the answer (“The recycling bin is empty because the bottles haven’t been rinsed out yet”) will help them begin to observe and analyse how they can cooperate without being asked.
Encouraging Cooperation with Fun Games
Team games are a great way to encourage cooperation because they can not be played without a number of people being involved. Allowing children to play organised soccer matches or similar sporting activities will help them learn the value of working together towards a common goal. For younger children, group games and spontaneous games – even turning chores into games completed together – can serve the same purpose. Allowing children to enjoy these games with children of their own age, older children and even adults will help them understand that they can cooperate with people of all ages as well.
Encouraging Cooperation with Thoughtful Notes
Parents can not be around their children at all times, so thoughtful notes can be a way of gently reminding children to cooperate and pitch in to help others when there is no one necessarily looking over their shoulders to see that they do. For children going to school, a little note tucked into a backpack pocket or lunch box (“I’m so proud of you for always sharing with those who don’t have as much”) can serve not only to let children know that parents are thinking of them, but to boost their self-confidence when notes are phrased positively and to remind them of easy ways to cooperate with others and remember to be productive members of the community.
Encouraging Cooperation with Special Reminders
For some children, notes are not as motivating as visual reminders. When this is the case then tangible items related to cooperation, such as a special cap related to cooperating in the garden or a special bracelet related to cooperating with getting dressed, can serve the same purpose. Remember, however, that these items are reminders, not bribes and should never be used to gain children’s cooperation but rather to reward it.
Encouraging cooperation from children may take some energy but it need not be terribly time consuming nor incredibly involved. Using simple statements, fun games, thoughtful notes and special reminders are just a few of the ways that children can be encouraged to cooperate with others.