Encouraging Cooperation

Cooperation Advice from Sports Coaches

Seasoned kids' coaches know more than their fair share about building cooperation -- on and off the field. Steal from their playbook.

1. Review the rules. "I make it a point to outline what kids are supposed to do, how to do it, and why," says Robert Doss, author of How to Coach T-Ball Without Going Insane. The reason: Young children aren't often aware that not cooperating affects others.

2. Widen her circle of playmates. "I encourage kids to play catch with rotating partners," says Chris Downs, a T-ball coach in Montoursville, Pennsylvania. "The more peers a child interacts with, the more practice she gets at building cooperation skills."

3. Applaud a group effort. "It's a natural impulse to praise individual successes," says Chris Branscome, a U.S. Youth Soccer coach in Rowlett, Texas. "But when you acknowledge a team's effort, you reinforce the importance of working together." If your child doesn't play sports, point out the accomplishments of his preschool class or even of your family.

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