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4 Ways to Develop Cooperative Kids

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1. Catch Kids Being Cooperative

I've taught thousands of children over decades from babies through to thirteen year olds and I found there was one constant across all age groups.


 What I gave attention to, I got more of.

When I noticed children being cooperative, I experienced less behaviour problems because they knew I was inclined to notice the good in them. There was simply more in it for them by being co-operative.

I'm still surprised when, if two young kids are playing well together, a parent will say nothing until they begin to argue.

If there's no attention for being good, but instant attention received for doing something wrong, what's being reinforced?

Children crave your attention and will do what they can to get it.


Positive attention builds your relationship, negative attention damages it.

Parent and Child at the Supermarket

3. Model Cooperative Behaviour Yourself

When my kids were young we modeled being helpful.


And from when our children were very young we did a lot of every day things together, so we helped each other out as we made things, cooked together, gardened, played games, etc. Our kids learnt cooperation made it easier for all of us.

And when any chores were done, we got to have fun together. And I made sure we did have fun.

And we talked about doing what was asked properly, first time as it saved time in the long run. Our kids learnt it was good they had people in their life they could rely on. It made life easier.


Sometimes we did things that had some risk associated with them, for example surfing and I needed to be able to trust my kids.

Trust was built upon by increasing responsibilities and privileges, as they were earned.


If you build your relationship with a child you have credit points to fall back on, if you can't do, or give them, something they want.


It's a great idea to build those credits up while your kids are young.

Step by Step Parenting Tips 4

This page provides 4 easy ways to improve your children's behaviour

Behaviour can improve quickly if you're consistent:

  • Watch for kids 'being cooperative' and comment on exactly what they're doing right.

  • Make children aware of boundaries ahead of time, preferably before a negative incident occurs

  • Model cooperative behaviour

  • Spend time building the relationship, by being interested in what your kids are interested in

2. Make Expectations Clear Ahead of Time (Boundaries)

e.g. Prior to going into a shopping centre I didn't ever just say "be good." Instead I made it clear, (ahead of time,) what was expected.


Some simple useful rules for shopping:

  • Keep your voices low (so only those with you can hear you)

  • Keep your hands to yourself

  • Stay near me. (Within two steps of me)

  • Explain the better behaved you are the quicker I'll be

Set things up for kids to succeed by:

  • Having kids where they can see something interesting. e.g. In the shopping centre a mirror works a treat, toy catalogues also work well

  • Noticing and acknowledging positive behaviours immediately

  • Giving a reward linked to positive behaviour at the end. But by linking it to behaviour, kids learn there's something in it for them, for being cooperative.

  • Whenever possible, I later addressed each one independently and told them what they'd done to help me and why I appreciated it. And that helped build our relationship.

Winter Sports

4. Build Your Relationship

Another thing that's really important in encouraging co-operation is paying attention to what's important to a child.


I recall a boy I taught who'd had many behaviour problems with previous teachers, and often at home with his mum.


But one day I had the good fortune to see him with his little brother; how kind and gentle he was with him. I could tell he adored him.


So every morning I asked this often initially sullen boy how his little brother was going... And his face lit up.

​It took probably ten to twenty seconds every day but it transformed this boy's world because he knew someone 'saw him,' and knew what was important to him. His attitude to school and his education improved. And he became a really good kid.

We all like to feel somebody notices us.

Step 5: Why Proximal Development is so Important for learning

For more ideas on developing positive learning opportunities visit the following links below:

Best Parenting is a high quality parenting website designed with child and family success in mind. It highlights what successful parents do differently to those who struggle. Best Parenting provides free online resources for busy parents who want the best practical advice on: how to give kids a best start in life, better tips for parenting toddlers, effective child rearing strategies, behaviour management tips, successful goal setting and organizational strategies for successful families, easy family dinner recipes, self-care tips for time-poor parents and free kids learning games. The aim of Best Parenting is to provide quality practical parenting tips and advice to best help children and families succeed, using the convenience of a website.

This website provides examples of what worked for me over decades and you are welcome to use these ideas as you see fit but you do so at your own risk. Best Parenting does not provide any guarantee that this information will work in every circumstance with every family or with every child. It is your responsibility as a user of this website to ensure that you adhere to any recommended safety suggestions either implicit or explicit on this site and supervise your children while playing any games suggested. Similarly users of this website are advised to follow any recommendations for seeking professional advice as all information on this site is generic. Best Parenting is an independent website and is not affiliated with any other groups, clubs, religious organizations or educational systems.


Best parenting takes time. The best parenting advice ever is simple: Do your best, don't give up and love your children, no matter what.

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