After initial grumbling and disbelief, the sales team figured out that they needed to work together so that everyone could win. It was all or none. Much to their CEO's amazement, the sales organization met their objective by August. The least productive salesperson performed at the level of the previous year's top sale associate. This sales manager knew how to engage cooperation. She knew everyone was in the same boat, and she found a powerful way for the sales associates to understand it.
To engage cooperation with our children, we need to help our children understand that we are all in this together. In How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Faber and Mazlich tell us we need to come with an attitude of respect that communicates to our children that we think they are loveable, smart and capable people who are willing to do the responsible thing when they see a problem. The authors suggest the following five ways to engage cooperation:
1. Describe what you see, or describe the problem.
2. Give information.
3. Say it with a word.
4. Describe what you feel.
5. Write a note.
Let's take an example. The den needs to be picked up for company. To engage cooperation we could do the following:
To describe: There are toys on the floor that need to be put away. There are crayons on the table. There are shoes under the table. Coats on the couch.
Give information: The Browns are coming in 15 minutes. I don't think they can walk in the den without tripping on toys.
Say it in a word: Pick up time! Or, the den!
Describe feelings: I'd love for the Browns to see our home without a lot of clutter.
Write a note: Emergency! Company Coming! Clean Up! Apple Pie for Dessert!
When we can avoid making chores into a competition, that is, rewarding our children for doing something first, or the fastest, we will also avoid the power struggles that can emerge from a child's thinking this is a contest between me and you. When we can help everyone in our family understand that working together benefits us all, when we can engage cooperation, we'll help create stronger individuals and a stronger family.
Next Week: Put First Things First
Kids Talk is a column dealing with early childhood development issues written by Maren Stark Schmidt. Mrs. Schmidt founded a Montessori school and holds a Masters of Education from Loyola College in Maryland.
She has over 20 years experience working with young children and holds teaching credentials from the Association Montessori Internationale. She is also Creative Director for a video-based reading series for children ages three to six, The Shining Light Reading Series. Contact her via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.shininglightreading.com for more information.
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