There’s no doubt that you love the idea of being “a team” with your child. But actually building that parent-child cooperation takes input from both sides, with you leading the way and encouraging your little one to get involved in doing daily tasks, making decisions and solving problems.
It’s easy for us to want to save time when doing normal day-to-day jobs. So, when our children challenge the way things are done, we might respond with “just do it this way”, “let me do it” or “because I said so”.
However, if we switch out instructions or standard replies for questions that encourage cooperation, your child could benefit from more opportunities to work with you.
Inviting cooperationAside from the height difference, children are similar to adults in a lot of ways. For example, they don’t respond well to too many demands. While it’s important as a parent to set boundaries, too many responses of “because I said so” can lead to resistance and power struggles from children.
They respond well to positive language when inviting cooperation. In other words, instead of telling them to do something and expecting them to act without question, be open to responding to their challenges and answering the many whys that tend to follow. Yes, it might take a lot longer to get things done, but your child will appreciate you giving them some input and will gain an understanding of why, in fact, things are done in such a way.
Practise parent-child cooperation with phrases like:
Instead of “tidy up your toys”, try saying something like “your toys are still out”. This way, you’re not accusing your child of not doing the jobs they’re responsible for - you’re essentially putting the ball in their court.
Not only does this open the door for respectful collaboration, but it also encourages them to think independently about what they need to do to improve the situation.
Cooperating from an early ageEncouraging cooperation from an early age sets the foundation for this teamwork-based relationship to come naturally. Share chores like setting the table or tidying up toys, and point out the benefits of cooperation as you go along. Statements like “look how quickly we can do this when we work together” and “thanks for helping out, now we have more time to play” are great places to start.
Practise turn-taking during these shared jobs. Children from as young as 6-9 months can engage in back-and-forth interactions, and can also learn to imitate what you’re doing. Whenever you tidy something away, let them copy you, and keep going until you’re happy with their input.
We’re here to support you on your parenting journey. If you have any questions or want to enquire about our Kids’ Kampus Childcare Centre, give us a call on (09) 630 1454.