The ability to cooperate with others is a skill that your child will carry with them through to adulthood. No matter what the age, being able to work together with another person or in a group will have benefits in relationships, school, and work. Parents of toddlers and preschoolers know that their child is at an age where they are building their independence, and it may seem like cooperation doesn’t come easily. However, teaching your child to cooperate is possible.
Here are some ways you can help encourage your young child to cooperate with others.
Model cooperative behavior
As a parent, you are your child’s main source of knowledge of the world around them. Take every opportunity to demonstrate not only how to cooperate, but the benefits that come from cooperation. For example, you can let your child see you sharing something with a family member, or working together to solve a minor problem.
Point out the benefits of cooperation
Whether you engineer a problem-solving situation or notice it happening organically, be sure to point out the benefits of working together. For example, you can say, “Thank you for helping me find the remote control. It was easier when we did it together,” or “It was very helpful of you and your brother to put your shoes away on your own. Now the floor is safer because nobody will trip.” Not only will this help your child understand why cooperation is important, but it will encourage them to keep trying.
Play cooperative games
Children learn through play, and family-friendly games can be an ideal way to help your child learn how to cooperate in a fun environment. Amazon has a list of top-rated cooperative board games for children to help spark some ideas. You can also play hide-and-seek in teams, do a puzzle together, and create a structure with building blocks together. Because toddlers and preschoolers have a more difficult time understanding competition than older children, cooperative games like these put the focus on working together to accomplish the same goal.
Get your child involved in chores
Children who help out around the house see greater persistence and higher levels of emotional wellbeing and happiness. But household chores can also be an ideal way to demonstrate the importance of working together. By helping with tasks such as setting the table, tidying the living room, or feeding the family pet, your toddler or preschooler will learn that all members of the household cooperate in its management. Here are some ideas for age-appropriate household chores for young children.
Talk to your child’s preschool teacher
Because they have daily experience with children playing and working together, your child’s preschool teacher can be a very helpful resource in encouraging cooperation. Whether it’s ideas for ways to promote teamwork at home or in a group with other children, your child’s teacher can suggest ideas specific to your child’s personality and interests.
Toddlers and preschoolers are developing their independence, but that doesn’t mean they can’t also learn how to work together. With our tips for encouraging your young child to cooperate, you can help make the process fun.