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How to get your child to cooperate

At times our little ones may not be as cooperative with us as we wish. Cooperation is when your needs are in harmony with someone else’s. Getting your child to cooperate with you is a team effort. It is important to break down the rules and safety reasons to your child, so they understand the reason behind certain choices and the good in them. Always talk to your child, explain your reasoning but try to keep it at a minimum of words so they can understand clearly. Get down to their eye level and get their attention, once you have it, talk to them. Try not to repeat yourself, sometimes we tend to repeat ourselves and even get upset. Once that occurs, they become less effective in cooperating and our message may even get lost. Always listen to your child’s needs as this can be the easiest and most effective way for them to cooperate. In Montessori, developing your child’s will, rather than oppose it is a key factor to cooperation. We manage to get the children to cooperate without punishment or rewards in the equation by simply following these tips.

Offer suggestions not commands:

No one wants to listen to someone who's giving orders; in fact, it always stimulates resistance. Think about how you feel when someone orders you around. Instead, keep your tone warm and give them choices.

“it is cold outside; would you like me to put on your jacket? Or would you like to put it on yourself?” -limited choices

You need to be comfortable with the choices you are offering

Do chores together

Let your child experience a sense of cooperation by having them be involved.

  • Pick up toys together

  • Wash the car

  • Set the table

  • Bake together

  • Garden

*Tip: Praise and boost their self esteem “You scrubbed our car so well, now our car is so clean”

Describe what you see and feel

Here are a few tips we follow in the Montessori classroom for a successful cooperation

  • Have your child’s attention

  • Use fewer words (Toddlers and preschoolers tend to listen to the last words they hear)

  • Give choices not commands

  • Keep calm

  • Slow down the pace. When dealing with toddlers and young children, rushing is not the preferred option

  • Prepare the environment

  • Set up routines

  • Collaborate with chores

  • Model behavior

“The children have shown love of work which no one suspected to be in them, and a calm and an orderliness in their movements, which surpassing the limits of correctness have entered into those of ‘grace.’ The spontaneous discipline and obedience which is seen in the whole class, constituted the most striking results of our method.”

-Maria Montessori

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