Encouraging Cooperation – April 2009

MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Do you often feel like it’s easier to do a task by yourself rather than trying to get your children to help?

According to Samantha Stern, training and development director at Ebenezer Child Care Centers, “Encouraging your children to cooperate and help with household tasks isn’t always easy, but it is worth the effort.”

Stern has some simple suggestions for helping your children see the value of cooperation.

Serve As A Role Model

Stern says that children learn a great deal through observation and because of this, it’s always good to cooperate with those around you. If your spouse needs help, make sure that your children hear the request and how you respond to it. Let your children see that working together can be fun, and that oftentimes, you can accomplish more together.

Then, take this role model concept one step further and show your children how to do the age-appropriate tasks you would eventually like them to do on their own such as making their beds, setting the table, loading the dishwasher, or taking out the garbage.

“If your children feel confident about how to do something, they will be more likely to cooperate and do the task later when it is asked of them,” says Stern.

Remember To Keep It Simple

Stern adds that once you have shown your children how to do a task, keep your request as simple as possible when you do need help using “please” and “thank you.”

“Being as direct as, ‘Can you please help me set the table?’ tells your children exactly what you need from them. By using your manners, it shows that you value them as well. There is no room for misinterpretation.”

Sterns recommends that when your children get older, if you can’t be there, you should leave special notes to continue to encourage cooperation.

“Leaving notes such as ‘I hope you had a great day. Now please help to make my day great by taking the garbage out J.’ will show your children that you care about them and value the effort they put into being a part of your family,” she says.

There Is No I In Team

Another way for your children to learn the value of cooperation is to encourage them participate in a team effort. This can include being part of an organized sport such as soccer or playing a game that requires several people such as charades.

Stern says that by being part of a team, children will see that they have to do what’s best for the group, rather than simply doing what they want to do. They will learn the importance of listening and following instructions and how not doing those things impacts the success of the team.

What To Do When Your Children Don’t Cooperate

Stern adds that when your children don’t cooperate, you need to show them that there will be consequences for their lack of action. Tell them that, because they didn’t help you, you now have less energy than you should. Therefore you won’t be able to do something that they want you to do with them.

“There is nothing worse to teenagers than hearing that you won’t be able to drive them to a movie, because you have no energy left due to the fact that you had to take out the garbage they forgot,” says Stern. “My guess is that it will be the only time they forget to do what you ask of them.”

Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc. will be hosting a FREE Family Fun Night on “Encouraging Cooperation” on Wednesday, April 15 from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at their south side location at 1496 S. 29th Street. Come learn more about how to encourage cooperation and enjoy dinner on us. This event, which is sponsored by Children’s Hospital’s Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Fund, is free and open to the public.  Registration is required.  Please call 414-643-5070 to register. For more information visit www.ebenezerchildcare.com.

Ebenezer Child Care Centers, Inc. is a not-for-profit, locally based agency committed to providing early care and learning programs from the heart.

The agency prides itself on being different from other child care providers in that it offers a home-like atmosphere, individualized, nurturing care, and a structured curriculum that is virtues-based for every child’s developmental stage. Every Ebenezer Child Care Center focuses on all aspects of a child’s development: cognitive, physical, emotional, and social.

The agency has locations in downtown Milwaukee, on Milwaukee’s southside, and in Greenfield, Oak Creek, and Wauwatosa. The agency’s main office is located at 1496 South 29th Street, Milwaukee. For more information please call 414-643-5070.