Of course the first step to getting more cooperation is to get out a mirror and examine your own behavior and belief system.  Take a good, hard look at how cooperative YOU are with your spouse, children, and others.  Chances are that if you have been irritated when someone asks for your help, or whiney when the house is left a mess, or nag when the chores need to be done, then that is exactly what you are getting back.  Are you asking for cooperation when you mean and want blind compliance?  If so all you are creating is tyranny and all you will be rewarded with is revolt.  Remember, no one likes a whiner, or wants to go along with your program when you are doing your wicked witch of the west routine.

In case you are having a hard time acknowledging your part in this,  just step back for a day or two and watch and listen.  What you see and hear comes from you.  Yes, it’s true.  Sure you didn’t mean to, you didn’t know any better.  Now you do.

Once you figure out your mistakes, sit everyone down and share your discovery.  Try to get excited that you finally see this about yourself.  Have a good laugh.  After all, you are just human and we all make mistakes while we are learning.  Not only are you modeling how to cooperate, you are also modeling how to respond to mistakes.  Don’t over think this, or lay a guilt trip on yourself, just do it.

Talk about what you want from yourself and everyone else.  Discuss the atmosphere you want to create.  Don’t whine.  Agree on a hand signal for your family to use when you forget and go back to your old ways.

Make a vision board with photos of your family getting along and having fun doing things around the house together.  Display it in a prominent place.

Set up a family meeting to figure out how to be more cooperative.  Have fun coming up with creative solutions.  Follow your children’s suggestions no matter how unrelated or silly they seem.  They may be just what everyone needs to turn the corner.

Speak in affirmations:          

“We are getting along so well!” 
“It’s easy for us to treat each other with love and respect.” 
“Our chores are getting done quickly and effortlessly.” 
“We have all the time we need to get everything done.” 

Any time you feel the urge to grumble, say an affirmation.    What you sow, grows.

Explore what each family member needs to help them be more cooperative.  Have each member come up with one item, list and post them.  State them in the affirmative.  Focus on what you are going to do instead of what you are going to stop doing.  Strive to give each family member that one thing that they need.  Cooperation comes from compromise and negotiation.  Reread the list together every morning before breakfast.

Everyone wants to be heard.  STOP what you are doing and LISTEN, do not fix.

Set up a peace table. Agree to go to it and use a talking stick to work out relationship issues.  Follow this format:  Give each participant a turn.

Gratefuls:           “I am grateful for...”
Feelings:           “When you did/said....I felt...”
Apologies:           “I apologize for...”
Needs/wants:           “I need/want you to...”
Amends:           “To make amends I will do....for/with you.”
Agreements:           “I agree to do/say...”      

Ask your family members what they want to be in charge of.  Rotate the roles.       
Decide together what chores need to be done.  Decide when and how you are going to do them.  Set up a schedule and post it.  Every morning review the plan for the day together.

We all want to feel special and be in charge.  Assign each member of your family a “Special Day” each week.  The special day person makes all decisions and settles all disputes.

When you ask someone to do something, model the response, “OK Papa, I’d love to pick up my toys.”  Then pick them up.  Don’t wait or insist for your child to join you.  If you do it long enough with joy and enthusiasm, they will too.

Make sure to show your family HOW to do things. Show, rather than tell.  Make lessons short and sweet.  Do it over and over until they get it.

The less you say the better.  Get in there and start handing stuff out that needs to be put away.

Chew gum or hum if you need help staying quiet.

If you feel compelled to comment on how someone is doing something, say what you observe.  “There’s  pile of dirt right here.”  or simply point it out and say “Dirt.”  Let them decide what, if anything, to do about it.  Be OK with their decision.

Offer choices:  “It’s chore time, shall we start with picking up the clothes or the toys?”

Remember:  Living things FIRST.  Feed and water all pets and plants before attending to inanimate things.

Play “What if”  in the car.  “What if no one wants to do their chores?”  Come up with contingency plans together.  Make it OK to take a break from a particular chore, or to rethink them entirely. 

Remind yourself that even the best laid plans will only work well for a couple of weeks.  Be prepared to refresh your approach.

Cooperative Phrases

As soon as you do...we’ll do....

I’m happy to help you with....

What is your plan for....?

How can we solve...?

I need some help with....

Let me show you how to....

Oh my Gosh!  There are ___everywhere, what are we going to do?

I wish you could _____.  Here’s what we can do....

How are you going to solve this problem?

How about you help me with... and I’ll help you with....

Here’s the plan....

OOH, I know it’s hard, let’s do it together!

This is how we....

What are you going to do about...?

I can’t wait to hear how you solved this problem!

Keys to Gaining Cooperation

Model cooperation yourself.  Do YOU cooperate with your spouse, children and extended family?

Plan together.  During a family meeting decide together what needs to get done and how you are going to do it.

Schedule it.  Once you’ve decided on a plan, get it scheduled and displayed. Then the schedule is the authority, not you, which decreases power struggles

Do chores together.  Set the timer to agreed upon time, play some music and get going!

When the plan falls apart ask, “How are we going to get this done?”  Follow your children’s solutions.

Rename the word “chore”.  I know a Norwegian family who call them “splevin”.

Ask your children what THEY need to get along better.  Make agreements.

If you ask someone to do something and they say no, respond with “I’ll do it!”  Do it with enthusiasm.

Keep your sense of humor.  When things don’t go as planned, laugh, take a break, do something fun and try again later.

Change one behavior at a time.  Slow and steady wins the race.