6 Ways to Get Kids to Cooperate
Getting your kids to do what you say may seem more like herding cats than teaching cooperation skills. Two-year-olds and teens alike defy directions, often refusing to do anything that you have asked of them.
You may be tempted to resort to bribery to get your children to help you with the chores or do their homework, but there are six better ways to get your child to cooperate.
- Give two choices
Your child may want to cooperate and do what you have asked, but there are far too many options from which to choose. To a child, five or six choices can seem like 20 or 30 choices to you.
To help your child be successful, narrow the choices to two or three options, depending on your child’s age. If, for example, you go to an ice cream store that sells dozens of flavors, help your child narrow the available choices by offering two flavors: one with which he or she is most familiar, and one new flavor he or she might like.
- Get buy-in
Parents who create an emotional connection with their children are far more likely to get their kids to cooperate.
Parents and children who have developed a bond with each other have fewer power struggles between them. That doesn’t mean you’ll always be on the same page, but you will be more likely to understand each others’ viewpoints.
To get this kind of buy-in, show interest in what your child is doing. Get down on the floor to color or play Legos, and take the time to create an emotional connection.
- Make a game out of it
Fun brings kids running, eager to participate. If you can make cooperation fun, your children will be happy to be a part of whatever you have planned. Make a game of putting away toys or folding clothes.
- Provide a rationale
Kids naturally question everything. Asking why helps children understand the world around them. Parents can help foster that understanding by offering a rationale for cooperation.
- Allow for power and control.
You are not going to let your child become a megalomaniac, but by permitting your child to take ownership, you are giving him or her a bit of control. Allow kids to make developmentally appropriate decisions.
- Walk Away
If these strategies do not work, and your kid becomes argumentative about cooperating, be prepared to walk away for a few minutes. Letting your child know that it’s not okay to argue or have a temper tantrum places the burden of cooperation on your kid rather than you.
What works with little kids won’t work with teens. Use developmentally appropriate strategies when trying to get your kids to cooperate.