BEST STARTS FOR KIDS

4 Ways to Develop Cooperative Kids

1. Catch Kids Being Good

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 good I experienced less behaviour problems. 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.

3. Model Cooperative Behaviour Yourself

When my kids were young we had one rule in the family and that was 'cooperate.' And it applied equally to the adults.

 

But from when our children were very young we did a lot of every day things together, so we learned to help each other out. Our kids learnt cooperation made it easier for all of us.

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

We talked about the importance of doing what was asked properly, first time as it saved time in the long run. And out kids learnt it was good to know you had people in your family you could rely on to make 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 children.

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.

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

Step by Step Parenting Tips 4

(Follow the blue text for tips)

Behaviour can improve markedly if you consistently do the following:

  • Watch for your kids 'being good' and comment on exactly what they're doing right. Then they learn what being good actually means

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

  • Model cooperative behaviour yourself

  • 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 they were the quicker I'd 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, kidslearn there's something in it for them, for being good.

  • 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.

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.

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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.

by Multi-Award Winning Educator. Early Learning Expert. Author/Illustrator.

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