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How to Encourage Cooperation in Your Preschooler

Cooperation in preschoolers is often an uphill battle as they learn simultaneously how to be independent. Oftentimes, children have their own agendas they want to follow. Additionally, preschoolers don’t always understand why they are being asked to do something. The key to encouraging cooperation with your preschooler is to show them that everyone can benefit when they cooperate.

Here are four ways you can encourage cooperation in your preschooler.

use positive reinforcement

Positive reinforcement plays a major role in teaching your preschooler to be more cooperative. Your preschooler is more likely to respond well and to repeat cooperative behavior in the future when you reward them once they’ve cooperated willingly. Additionally, it’s important to reward the preschooler consistently as this shows your child that you regularly notice their cooperative behaviors.

Remember, positive reinforcement is not bribery in that there is no prior “agreement” made for a reward if something is done. While bribery isn’t discouraged (as there is a time and a place for it since it does work in certain situations), positive reinforcement has lasting effects since the reward comes after the behavior and reinforces the child’s willingness to cooperate without pre-established conditions.

use predictable routines

Routines which set your preschooler up for success are key in a child’s daily activities. While the element of surprise can be fun sometimes, routines show a child that they can trust their caregivers and teachers to provide for them. It also sets them up for success by allowing them the opportunity to anticipate activities. This, in turn, will afford the child the chance to jump in and help out where they can.

For instance, if you help your child brush their teeth before bed at the same time everyday, it will be easier to gain cooperation from your child when you ask them to brush their teeth without your help because they’re already anticipating their nighttime routine.

use transition warnings

Just as routine is important to a preschooler, so is predictability. Children don’t usually respond well to sudden changes in activities when they are already doing something they’re enjoying. Without proper warning, a child may be less likely to cooperate with you. This is where transition warnings help a child begin to anticipate upcoming transitions and changes. Say, for instance, your child is watching their favorite show, but you really need them to help you set the table for dinner. Rather than interrupt their show to ask them suddenly to set the table, offer them a few minutes’ warning to let them know you will be needing their assistance soon. This allows the child to begin processing that their cooperation is needed and their show-watching will be ending.

Offer your preschooler choices

Another way to encourage cooperation in your preschooler is to offer choices when their cooperation is needed. For instance, there is a higher rate of success when a preschooler is offered choices like either putting shoes away or picking up all the laundry than when a child is simply asked if they can put away their shoes. When a child is asked to do just one thing, there is more room for negotiation. However, when a child is offered choices, they are more likely to pick one or the other.


Are you interested in learning more about how Kids ‘R’ Kids Academy of Legacy West can teach your preschooler about cooperation? Our Preschool Program is fully accredited and always ready to match your toddler’s energy and curiosity with wonderful teaching lessons.

We teach your preschooler to be prepared for elementary school and beyond!

Want to learn more about Kids ‘R’ Kids Learning Academy of Legacy West located in Frisco, Texas? Our mission is to provide secure, nurturing, and educational environments for children ages 6 weeks – 12 years. We help children to bloom into responsible, considerate, and contributing members of society. For more information, give us a call or stop by for a tour! We’d love to get to know you and your family.