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    The 5Rs Approach to Develop a Co-operative Child

    Have you ever had the experience that your child looked in your eye, behaved inappropriately while you repeatedly told him/her not to. You would be upset when your child was not co-operating with you. What should you do?

    Why young children do not co-operate?

    Young children think what they are doing is much more fun than being a good listener at this age.

    Young children have less control over their impulses. They want their wishes to be granted immediately. They will keep asking or going for them even if their wishes may not be appropriate at that time or situation.

    Young children need to feel independent. They may want to do something on their own when they have the opportunity – after having grown-ups tell them what to do for the whole day.

    How do you get your child to co-operate?

    Your child may just need to learn the concepts and skills to behave appropriately. Once you work with them effectively, you can gain the co-operation you are looking for.

    Here is the 5Rs Approach to build your child’s co-operative behaviour:

    A. Preventive Strategies

    1. Rules  – To inform child about expected behaviour and consequences for not following rules.

    a. Set limits

    • Limits help keep children safe and are important in cutting down on uncooperative behaviour.
    • Setting limits does not mean overwhelming your child with too many rules. Set rules about the really important things.
    • Explain the reason for your rules. Kids are more willing to listen when they understand why.
    • It is important to set limits without creating a power struggle.

    b. Give Effective Instructions

    You can make your instructions more effective by:

    • getting your child’s attention
    • making sure you’re giving an instruction, not a request
    • being clear about what needs to be done
    • making sure your child can do what you’re asking
    • making the instruction positive – for example, ‘walk slowly’, rather than ’Don’t run’.
    • following through on what you’ve asked.

    It might help your child if you present things visually using pictures and not too many words.  Also give your child some time, perhaps 10 seconds, to process the instruction.

    1. Routines – To develop daily routines which help child to demonstrate the expected behaviour naturally.

    a. Examples of daily routines for children may include wake up times, bath times, mealtimes, play times, family times and cleaning schedules.

    b. Some benefits of having a daily routine:

    • Establishes healthy and positive habits.
    • Establishes expectation.
    • Develops a confident and independent child.

    B. Reactive Strategies

    1. Regulate – To give the child time to calm down before talking to him / her.

    a. Calm down

    When your child is feeling uncomfortable and demonstrating not-so-good behaviour, allow him/her time and space to calm down before you talk to him /her. It will be helpful to set up a calm down corner at home and in class so children / even adults can use the place to engage their minds and release their anger. Just like any other skills, remaining calm during anger is an important life skill for children to learn since young and master through practice.

    b.Acknowledge your child’s wishes.

    Whenever possible, offer your child an appropriate alternative (e.g. jump on trampoline instead of jumping on the bed) so he/she will understand that you are not ignoring but accepting and respecting his/her desires and therefore, they do not see the need to continue to request and protest for them.

    1. Redirect – To refocus the child’s attention (e.g. remove the unfavourable objects, restructure the situation to involve child in other activities first)

          a. Use positive motivation.

    b. Provide choices for your child.

    c. Use redirection and distraction.

    1. Reinforce – To give positive comments about other children’s behaviour, praise child immediately once he / she demonstrates the expected behaviour.



    Written by

    Ms May Chui

    EIP Program Manager