Teaching young children to cooperate with others is an essential life skill that they must be taught early on. The ability to work with and get along with others is a learned skill that they are not inherently born with, so the task must begin at home. The experiences and interactions they foster with parents, early teachers and care givers can propel the learning process. Most children are ready to embark upon the practices of cooperation around the age of three, and taking turns and role-playing are great learning concepts that they can grasp.
Children need to learn the skills of cooperation to a point in which it becomes a natural process during the course of their youth. This skill will allow them to form solid friendships that revolve around respect for each other, and therefore, are more harmonious in nature. Building a foundation for character development in a positive direction is necessary for children to learn about generosity, caring, cooperation, and citizenship. Most children can begin learning the foundation of this trait through sharing with others.
Family Projects: Planning projects that include the entire family unit are a great way to help children see the group working together to achieve a common goal. Ideas to try are starting an herb or flower garden, planning a holiday and even playing a game.
Model Cooperative Behavior: As a parent, you are your child’s biggest influence, and they will do as they see you do. Be a good model of cooperative behavior to your children by letting them see you put the practices in action. Ask for their assistance in chores within the household. Explain to them that the time saved by working together on tasks can allow the extra necessary to enjoy doing a fun activity.
Book Club: Entertain your children by reading stories to them that involve characters that achieve feats by working together. Use these tales as an opportunity to initiate conversation with your child about how they would handle such situations if they were asked to help out in a similar situation.
Making Music: Children tend to have a unique response to music from an early age, and it can open up a completely new concept of cooperation to their world. After listening to a segment of a song, initiate conversation about how each member of the group plays a role that results in a harmonious combination that creates the music you heard. This is a great time to introduce simplistic musical instruments to your child. Consider playing these instruments together as a family and recording them, so the child can hear how their role made a difference in the resulting musical production.
Cooperation Soup: Cooking with parents is typically an enjoyable experience for children, and you can find age-appropriate tasks for them to help with when making a meal. Gathering ingredients and mixing dry ones are great ways to include them in the process. While enjoying the results with the family, praise them for their contribution to the project.