Encouraging Cooperation

How to get your child to do what you want -- the first time you ask.

Why Is My Preschooler So Uncooperative?

When your child was a baby, he took his bath when you were ready, wore the outfits you selected, and went on errands without a big fuss. But with the preschool years has come a shift -- and now every request is met with objections, bargaining, or infuriating disregard. "From getting out the door in the morning to getting dressed for bed, it can be an around-the-clock challenge to gain a preschooler's cooperation," says parenting educator Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Discipline Solution: Gentle Ways to Encourage Good Behavior Without Whining, Tantrums, and Tears.

The good news is that 4- and 5-year-olds are at a perfect age for developing cooperative traits, according to clinical psychologist Ray Levy, PhD, coauthor of Try and Make Me! Simple Strategies That Turn Off the Tantrums and Create Cooperation. "At this stage, kids are emerging from their 'me'-focused toddler years," he explains. "Because preschoolers are able to grasp that they're part of something bigger than themselves, they're much more open to teamwork." The benefits of this new understanding are endless, he adds: A cooperative attitude helps kids develop stronger friendships, succeed in school, and, ultimately, contribute to society. What's more, encouraging this beneficial trait isn't hard if you follow our five simple strategies.

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