Teaching cooperation

Sometimes we wonder why our children can’t be more helpful, why they don’t cooperate better. The reality is it is a skill they need to learn. Here is a piece from The Growing Child newsletter distributed by Lifestart about how to help them learn these important life skills.

Teaching Cooperation

Why do some children seem willing to cooperate while others do not? In fact, children learn to be cooperative and helpful. They do not become that way automatically. They have to learn to work with others to accomplish a job and to help others by sharing materials and information.

Children have to learn how to make someone else’s work or play easier. This learning takes place slowly, but the foundations can be laid early life. Here are some things that parents and caregivers can do that will set the stage for the development of cooperation:

1. Be a model. This is one of the best ways to teach cooperation because children imitate the actions of people who are important to them. If young children see parents and other adults cooperating with others, they will be more willing to do the same. When a parent helps out a neighbour or takes a casserole to the new family next door, he or she is setting an example that is seen by children and recorded for future reference.

2. Provide other models of good behaviour. Children are exposedto lots of models other than parents, including television, movies, books, toys, recordings, smart phones and video games.
Make an effort to screen these media and choose those that show good friendships, unselfish giving, or acts of kindness.

3. Give suggestions and reasons. One of the reasons adults sometimes fail to help is that they do not know what to do or how to do it. Don’t expect a child to automatically know how to do anything without specific, concrete suggestions. For example, tell a five-year-old: “Joan,
push the door and hold it open for Mrs. Stanley. She’s having trouble doing that and pulling the grocery cart at the same time.” You are more likely to get help from a four-year-old if you say: “I
want you to help me set the table for dinner because I have to finish the salad. Here are the plates. Put a napkin and a knife, fork and spoon next to each plate—like this.” Giving reasons along with suggestions helps children understand why another person needs their help and makes them more willing to cooperate.

4. Assign real responsibilities that are age-appropriate. We usually get what we expect from children,and they need to know that we expect them to take an active part in the work
of the family. Parents can convey expectations of cooperation and helpfulness, not by preaching, but by giving children real chores to do, and by showing them how to do the chores, when

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        Short videos on the Importance of Play have recently launched which was a collaboration between North Central CFSN and Lifestart Services.   Volume 1 https://youtu.be/xl2F2vZXhbg Volume 2 https://youtu.be/OOy4lmWggtM Volume 3 https://youtu.be/tmv40--l7fA Volume 4 https://youtu.be/Wr9bfTWddts Volume 5 https://youtu.be/7HLkBXvVTFE Volume 6 https://youtu.be/NuUXb51qZY0

Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.


The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.


In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  


Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  


In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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