Wellbeing

Encouraging Cooperation

Trusted Child Psychiatrist and Only About Children parenting expert, Dr Kaylene Henderson responds to the frequently asked question - encouraging preschool/kinder children to cooperate and follow instructions.
Encouraging Cooperation Encouraging Cooperation

One of the common challenges faced by parents of young children is encouraging them to cooperate and follow instructions. While there’s a lot I could share on this topic, my one big tip is to be fun and creative wherever possible.

Your children love playing with you (after all, you’re one of their favourite people on the planet), and will be more likely to cooperate with whatever you have planned when you keep things playful.

Doing silly dance moves together as you head towards their bedroom is much more fun than being ordered there.

Doing your best Captain Barnacles impersonation, and declaring, “Sound the Octo-alert! Everyone to the Gup!”, as you run out to the garage is far more engaging than instructing your children to head to the car. (Trust me. I’ve totally done this!).

Magic works well too. My kids and I used to play a game in which I would make up a magic spell and suddenly they would start doing whatever I’d wished for, as if they’d been swept up in a powerful spell and were no longer in control of what was happening to them. My spells were pretty hopeless – I remember one went something like, “Ziggety Zaggety Zongoggly, Zeeth, Please make my child start brushing her teeth!” – but remarkably, they worked, because we were having fun together.

Never underestimate how much your children love your company. While it might feel like more effort on your part, when you make tasks fun, you meet your children’s need for closeness and play, while teaching them to behave cooperatively. And that’s a win win.

For more great advice from Dr Kaylene Henderson:

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