When children refuse to cooperate
It's lunch time. You ask children to clean up, but nobody moves... You call out to children as they are playing in the yard and tell them it's time to go inside, but they keep on playing... You ask children to get dressed to go outside, but they just cross their arms and pout... Children who refuse to cooperate can display these types of behavior. Of course, they can also manifest their refusal in a variety of different ways. Obviously, our goal is not for children to perfectly obey every time we make a request or demand. Certain developmental phases come with their fair share of opposition. During certain periods, children are more assertive and refusing to cooperate is one route they will frequently take. Whether opposition is normal or not, frequent or occasional, here are a few tricks that may help you:
- Be patient.
- Give children clear and simple instructions, but most of all, make sure your requests correspond to children's capacities.
- Make only one request at a time. Children's short-term memory makes it impossible for them to remember 3-4 requests at the same time.
- Ask children to do things instead of demanding. Sometimes, the way we say things can greatly improve or reduce children's desire to collaborate.
- Clearly explain why they must do what you are asking of them. Avoid criticism.
- Allow children to enjoy a certain amount of freedom. Let them do as they please every now and then. If they occasionally enjoy a certain sense of power, they may be less tempted to refuse to listen when their collaboration is required.
- Accept a "normal" delay between the time you make a request and children's execution.
- Accompany children. Guide them through the steps required to execute your requests.
- Offer plenty of positive reinforcement when children collaborate.
- What must you avoid?
- If children resist, do not let them win.
Do not punish them when they refuse to collaborate, but whenever possible, let them experience the logical consequences associated with their absence of collaboration.
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator