Extension says teach children to cooperate

Home News Extension says teach children to cooperate

By Cathy Brown • 

Hoke Extension •

During this new normal, it is especially important for children to cooperate as well as adults. We can teach our children how to cooperate. But, why do some children seem willing to cooperate while others do not?


In fact, children learn to be cooperative and helpful. They do not become that way automatically. They have to learn to work with others to accomplish a job and to help others by sharing materials and information.

Children have to learn how to make someone else’s work or play easier. This learning takes place slowly, but the foundations can be laid early in life.

Here are some things that parents and caregivers can do that will set the stage for the development of cooperation:

1. Be a model. This is one of the best ways to teach cooperation because children imitate the actions of people who are important to them. If young children see parents and other adults cooperating with others, they will be more willing to do the same.

When a parent helps a neighbor move an air conditioner, or takes a casserole to the new family next door, he or she is setting an example that is seen by children and recorded for future reference.

2. Provide other models of good behavior. Children are exposed to lots of models other than parents, including television, movies, books, toys, recordings, smart phones and video games.

Make an effort to screen these media and choose those that show good friendships, unselfish giving, or acts of kindness.

3. Give suggestions and reasons. One of the reasons adults sometimes fail to help is that they do not know what to do or how to do it.

Don’t expect a child to automatically know who to do anything without specific, concrete suggestions. For example, tell a five-year-old: “Joan, push the door and hold it open for Mrs. Stanley: She’s having trouble doing that and pulling the grocery cart at the same time.”

You are more likely to get help from a four-year-old if you say: “I want you to help me set the table for dinner because I have to finish the salad. Here are the plates. Put a napkin and a knife, fork and spoon next to each plate – like this.”

Giving reasons along with suggestions helps children understand why another person needs their help and makes them more willing to cooperate.

4. Assign real responsibilities that are age-appropriate. We usually get what we expect from children, and they need to know that we expect them to take an active part in the work of the family.

Parents can convey expectations of cooperation and helpfulness, not by preaching, but by giving children real cores to do, and by showing them how to do the chores, when necessary.

Provided by: Growing Child, Inc.

For information on enrolling your child in 4-H, contact Cathy Brown at 910-850-3765 or email [email protected]. Also, visit Hoke County 4-H at: https://hoke.ces.ncsu.edu/categories/4-h-youth-development/ for additional information.