The Character Construction Site:


Cooperating is an important skill that allows a feeling of “community” and “teamwork” to develop in your family. 

Definition of Cooperation
Cooperating means working together with others who may have different levels of skill or ability, or different points of view.  Here, we learn the importance of tolerance for differences, which is the beginning of teamwork.  Instead of competing and trying to be the first one or the best one, each child can learn to feel good about him - or herself as a member of a productive team. 


  • Teach children how to negotiate with others.
  • Encourage children to look at alternatives, consequences and how their behavior affects others.
  • Visualize children as competent, caring and cooperative.

Family Activities

Play these games if you want family members to:

  • Include one another even though abilities may differ
  • Learn to tolerate and respect differences in ability, without having to be the best
  • Allow someone else to be first now and then
  • Be willing to try out other people’s ideas
  • Work together toward a common goal
  • Appreciate and honor each other’s skills and abilities
  • Feel like a team
  • Encourage cooperation instead of competition
  • Have fun together

Sock Juggle
This game will help you practice working together.

Set-up: Space to play, pair of rolled up socks for each family member, basket to hold sock balls, timer

Directions:  Read instructions aloud to everyone and demonstrate the actions before you begin to play the game.

  1. Decide aloud in what order the first sock ball will be thrown to each person, starting with a parent.  For example, Mom to younger brother to sister to Dad to older brother and back to Mom.
  2. Toss the sock ball in the order decided above.  The last person to catch it should be the parent who was first to throw it.
  3. Repeat the same pattern of tossing.  The same parent tosses to the same second person, which tosses to the same third person, etc.
  4. Continue tossing until the sock ball is smoothly passed several times in the same pattern. 
  5. Then, the parent who started adds another sock ball, and everyone keeps both sock balls going in the same pattern. 
  6. Add another one, and so on, until there is the same number of sock balls being passed, as there are family members. Practice until all the sock balls can be successfully kept in motion.
  7. Now that you have read all the instructions, set the time for 5 minutes and being with the first sock ball.
  8. When the timer rings, decide together whether you want to play the game longer.

Questions to consider:  Give specific examples of how we cooperated with one another to play the game?  Were there times when it was hard to work together?  Did we get better at it as we practiced?  Did we make allowances for different levels of ability?  How did it feel at the beginning and at the end of the game?  Does anyone feel we worked as a team?

Bouncing Beans or Soaring Socks!
This game will help you practice working together to achieve a common goal.  Set up: Space to play, scarf, beanbag or a pair of rolled up socks


  1. Have all family members hold a corner or edge of the scarf.
  2. Place a beanbag or sock ball in the center of the scarf
  3. Work together to bounce the beanbag or sock ball up in the air and catch it again in the scarf, as many times as you can.
  4. Count how many times you can bounce the item and catch it before it falls to the ground.
  5. Try again to see if you can better your score.
  6. Set a target score for your family and stop when you reach it.

Questions to consider:  Were we able to reach our goal?  If we did this again, what could we do to improve our ability to do the task?  Would we all talk at once or one at a time while the others listened? 

These comments and exercises were excerpted and adapted from Taking ”No” for an Answer and Other Skills Children Need by Laurie Simmons, M.A., Parenting Press, 2000.  For more information visit

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