3 Top Tips For Raising Co-operative Kids

by denny hagel on May 29, 2011


Raising cooperative children is key to a peaceful and pleasant home-life.

Lack of cooperation is the underlying factor to almost all parent/child challenges regardless of the age of your child. Whether it is picking up their toys, doing their homework or respecting their curfew…they all require the spirit of cooperation.
The lack of cooperation is what fuels the frustration parents feel.
  •  "Why doesn’t she listen?”
  •  “I have to tell her/him over and over to do the same thing.”
  •  “The simplest task becomes a battle!”
  •  “He knows he is supposed to make his bed every morning!”
  •  “I have to get angry before she does what she is supposed to do.”
  •  “It’s as if he doesn’t care!”
These are the some of the most common complaints I hear from parents. I am sure you could add a few of your own. Based on my over 25 years experience working with children combined with the nature of human instincts I have formulated the top 3 components of creating a cooperative relationship. In order to turn an uncooperative atmosphere around to reflect a desired cooperative relationship, we need to first examine the dynamics of the request for cooperation.
It will be helpful to begin by asking yourself a few questions.
  • What motivates me to be cooperative?
  • When am I most receptive to the needs and desires of others?
  • Does my attitude have a direct connection to how I am approached?
  • Am I more apt to try my best when my efforts are noticed and appreciated?
By asking yourself these questions and spending some time honestly evaluating your answers you will begin to see the most important step to raising co-operative kids is how they are approached.

Tip #1
Enlist their “help”
Your child’s response will directly reflect the way you approach them. If you “order” or “demand” your child to do what you would like them to do, you have set the tone of negativity…and negativity is what you will without a doubt receive.
For example, think about how you would feel if your boss or co-worker approached you and said, “Go get the financial report done now!”
Of course you would comply out of a sense of duty because it is your job and you want to keep your job but what if your job wouldn't be in jeopardy? Would you willingly with a happy heart tend to the report putting your best foot forward or would you grumble and complain doing what you had to do feeling you are not respected as a human being?
However, if your boss or co-worker approached you and said, “Good morning Mary, You are just the person I need this morning! I have a meeting at 10:00 and I really need to have the financial report completed. Would you mind doing that first thing this morning? It would be so helpful to have the figures during the meeting.”
Being asked rather than ordered puts everything in a more positive tone. When you are asked you feel respected and honored as a person. When you are feeling respected and in a positive frame of mind you want to do your best, you want to help.
Applying this same theory to how you approach your children will also produce a response of taking pleasure in doing what you want them to do.
Picking up toys…
For instance, let’s say you would like your 4 yr old to pick up his toys at the end of each day. Rather than simply issuing an order, “Tommy it is close to bed-time, pick up your toys.”, you could say “Tommy, it would be such a huge help if all of your toys were put away so the floors are cleared because I am planning on vacuuming first thing tomorrow morning. Would you please make sure all of your toys are back in their place before bed-time?”
Children love to feel helpful. 
Doing their homework…
Let’s look at another scenario. When dealing with the subject of homework you could approach your 12 yr old when he gets home from school by saying, “Get your homework done now” or you could say, “I have to finish the laundry this afternoon and I know you have homework to do so let’s get our jobs done right away so that we can have the evening free to watch a movie or play a board game together.”
This approach sends the message that we all have responsibilities that must be honored. In addition you have expressed your desire to spend quality time together which displays the benefit of tending to responsibilities.  Your child receives the message and feels he is a part of a team that is working toward the same goal…tending to responsibilities in order to have free time for something else.

Respecting their curfew…
Teens and curfew are at the top of many parent’s frustration list. “Be home by midnight” somehow is translated into the teenage mind as “Closer to 1:00 am!”
In keeping with the theory that it is more productive and successful to ask rather than demand or order, a conversation about why you would appreciate their cooperation in regards to honoring their curfew would be a positive approach.
“The movie you are going to see with your friends sounds really great! Have a great time! Please remember that I have to be at work at 8:00 am tomorrow so it would really help me get a good night sleep if you were back by midnight.”
In all of the example scenarios, the common thread is to approach your children with an attitude of respect. Through your attitude and tone of voice you are implying they have a choice. Even though you have not verbally stated they have a choice, the implication is an acknowledgment of their power and right to choose. And that is what will prompt them to want to co-operate.

Tip #2
Praise for effort
Once you have approached your child in a positive way and they have responded by cooperating it is important to pay attention during your child’s effort to comply with your wishes. While your child is complying with your wishes as you requested, praise them for their efforts. Let them know that you are aware of the fact that they are being cooperative. Acknowledge and verbalize your appreciation.
Picking up toys…
“I see you have been working really hard at getting your toys picked up! And they look so nice all back on the shelves so neatly. Now you will know exactly where they are when you want to play with them again. Great job!”
Doing their homework…
“How is your homework going? I see you have really stayed focused and already have your math homework done! I have one more load of laundry to dry and fold…I am looking forward to spending time with you after dinner. Have you thought about what you would like to do…a movie or a game?”
Respecting their curfew…
“Thanks for being mindful of your curfew. I am really so proud of you when you show a sense of maturity and consideration.”
Tip #3
Appreciate their contribution
Children thrive on being appreciated and respected. Again, think back at how you felt when you did something for someone that you know they needed and wanted you to do and there was no acknowledgment. Were you discouraged and disappointed that your efforts went unnoticed? What was your gut reaction the next time they asked you to do something? Did you do it with a happy heart and out of a desire to be helpful or did you go through the motions begrudgingly?
Paying attention and expressing your appreciation to your children for not only complying with your request but doing it in a cooperative manner will impact them in a way that makes them feel good about themselves. They will be inspired to continue in a cooperative manner and they will remember how they like feeling that they are a positive part of what happens in their home and in their lives. Being cooperative will feel good to them.
Children want to feel a sense of belonging. When they choose to act in a way that contributes to the well being of the family atmosphere they gain a sense of pride. They are proud of themselves for making a positive contribution!
Picking up toys…
“You know my job to vacuum this morning went so smoothly because you had all your toys already picked up. It didn’t take me near as long and now I have extra time to do something else!”

Doing their homework…
“This is wonderful that we completed our jobs this afternoon and can now get to enjoy this movie together…such a great way to end our day!”

Respecting their curfew…
“I felt so rested today at work! Because I knew you were home safely last night, I was able to sleep so peacefully. I love going to work with a rested mind and body.”
Using these three simple steps will enhance your child’s feeling of value. Understanding how their choices affect others will instill in them a sense of personal responsibility for their choices…not only in their lives but in the lives of those around them.

When children feel good about themselves they are motivated to make better choices. Feeling valued and respected will build their self-esteem and self-image. And all of that translates to a pleasant, cooperative and joyful relationship.


Denny Hagel is a child advocate and parent coach, devoting over 25 years to the success and well being of all children. She is the published author of over 50 articles on parenting, several of which have attracted international attention, and is a contributor to the parenting section of "The Infinite Field Magazine".

Denny was blessed with forward thinking parents who raised her with an understanding of her value as an individual, her innate power to choose by way of her thoughts, ideas, opinions and beliefs, thus, instilling in her a strong sense of personal responsibility for what happens in our lives

She is the founder of Awakened Parenting LLC, a company dedicated to helping parents release parenting paradigms of the past and consciously choose to raise their children to approach life with a positive mindset and strong sense of self. It is Denny’s passion to combine what she learned through her formal education in early childhood education and psychology and what her parents instilled in her and pass this on to all parents.

Denny has created the discussion group "Awakened Parenting Discussion Forum" on Face Book which now has over 700 members.  She does on line coaching with parents and teachers who consult her on a regular basis. Denny collaborates with counselors, authors, coaches and others working in the parent coaching field. Denny Hagel is the author of the newly published "The C.P.R. Program for Parents & Teens: Conflict Prevention/Resolution Formula", "Mini-Me Syndrome" and two free e-booklets Parenting Using the Law of Attraction and Becoming an Awakened Parent".

  • http://twitter.com/ElvieLook Elvie

    You have such a wonderful way of teaching and writing. I need to apply those points as I know I say things in the wrong way to my husband. It is amazing how our words have such a profound affect just by how we say things. Enjoy your articles so much!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Elvie!

  • http://twitter.com/SusanMcKenzieWY Susan McKenzie

    I love all the practical examples of how to use words in a respectful, honoring, and positive way… so many of us grew up hearing what doesn’t work instead of what does! You are a tremendous leader and teacher, Denny – thanks!!!

  • Anonymous

    You are so kind Susan! Blessings~

  • Olga

    The way we do things and the way we say things says more about ourselves than about the other person I think. How we treat ourselves we usually treat others. Things change when we choose to treat others the way we want to be treated. Thanks for all the isight again Denny!

  • Rachelle

    Funny, I just had my 19 yo say to me that he didn’t appreciate the way I demanded he let the other kids watch his dvd he was watching in the car.  I honestly did not hear a demand come from my mouth, but I listened to him repeat back what I had said, and then apologized to him. It IS so important how we say things. We choose to surround ourselves with either negative or positive.  Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones ~ Proverbs  This is a family memory verse.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Carol-Rosenberg-Giambri/655311615 Carol Rosenberg Giambri

    Loved this Denny and “praise for effort.”  Oops, brought a flashback and my parents forgot that part, but glad you are educating parents now who can make a difference on the value of praise along with the great points shared here. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for commenting Carol and for kind words!

  • Anonymous

    Oh wow, yes, it is amazing how we think we are saying something and how differently we are received! High five for recognizing it…love your family verse! Appreciate you sharing Rachelle!

  • Anonymous

    You are very welcome Olga, so true…what we send our returns to us! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  • http://www.thekidscoach.org.uk Naomi

    Great post. Lots of good advice. I tend to use the work and office one quite a lot when I suggets to parents how the can get their children to co-operate more effectively.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Naomi, I have found that the example of the work place request is a common area that most adults can relate to, which of course is the goal.

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  • http://www.GreenGiftsGuide.com Amity Hook-Sopko

    Helpful as always, Denny!   We go in and out of “listening” challenges with one of our boys. I realize it’s during the busier times (usually morning), so your advice will help us all be more conscious.  Your advice always reminds me to look at people’s intentions… and I know they don’t intend to be forgetful :)

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  • Kimberly DeMello

    I really enjoyed the article this morning.My issue is that I start  asking nicely for them to do things and then I ask nicely a 2nd and 3rd time and after that I start getting upset and it turns into a threat to take something away.It also bothers me because I feel like they don’t take me seriously. I have this issue mostly when I am trying to get them ready for school.

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