How To Encourage Teamwork and Cooperation in Children
How can you teach your child teamwork? What are the benefits of working in a team? Storyberries offers parenting tips and free books about teamwork for kids.
Why should kids learn teamwork?
As children grow they will have to do jobs of all kinds, and will also face challenges at school and college. Teaching children the value of working together in teams is a highly valued skill in today’s world, as it allows kids to realise the value of diversity in people’s complementary strengths.
Working as a team has many benefits, and can be encouraged in children from an early age. Nurturing teamwork in children can result in kids who are more sociable, collaborative, and capable of solving the different problems that come up in life.
What kind of teamwork?
Teamwork can be exercised in small collaborative groups, where members have the opportunity to practice and develop skills, observing and reflecting on attitudes and values that require practice. It can also be practiced when children play board games, participate in team sports, and help with household chores. Even simply being in a family means working in a team!
In all these activities, teamwork can teach organisation, leadership, and critical judgment. Children working in teams can also discover a sense of community, which in turn can support their resilience, as successes are shared, and failures absorbed by the group.
Will all children like teamwork?
It is not easy for all children to share work, present ideas, and see how other people develop them. Everyone is an individual, and some are born with a competitive personality. Teaching children to embrace teamwork may require a different approach for every child.
Tips for encouraging teamwork in kids
Take advantage of shared playtime to establish the importance of teamwork. From enjoying board games which test group dynamics, to gathering in family groups with similar interests and practicing outdoor excursions, camping or social support activities, teamwork can be made a part of everyday life. Allow kids to choose their teams, but also invite them to meet new people from time to time.
Good family communication is key: reinforce that all opinions are important. This does not mean that there is no hierarchy at home, as guardians will always be responsible for childrens’ development, but tell children that you will always value and consider their opinions.
Leave space for healthy criticism within groups. Help children understand how to offer criticism in a positive way, as a means of learning and improving.
Household chores (clearing the table, making the bed, keeping your room tidy) are a good way to work as a team; especially when several siblings live together in the same house.
Encourage children to trust the group and themselves in equal measure. For more shy children, remind them that they are as important as any other member of the group. For more outspoken or individualistic children, remind them that a good team needs all the people within it to be operating at their best, in order to achieve the goals of the group.
Encourage the creation of rules which will mutually benefit the group, and enable it to achieve its outcomes. Disobeying or changing the rules can waste resources within the group, undermine cohesion, and detract from the shared success of the team.
Use organised sport and physical competitions to reinforce that working as a team can be fun! Most sports are perfect for boys and girls to learn how to collaborate, how to work as a team, and how to understand that they can achieve amazing things together. Sports help children develop resilience, as outcomes are not always as they expect, they need to work with their partner or team to win, and they must follow instructions. There are some sports such as martial arts that also provide philosophies of respect and appreciation for others which, while individualistic, can also enhance the skills and sense of belonging that comes from working in a team or community.
And Also! is a fantastic picture book that shows the power of participating in positive communication in teams. In the story, a little sister always develops the ideas of her bigger brother so that they come up with even better ideas than they could alone.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa/ Jade MaitreLuzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.