Tips for Parents From Teachers: Cooperation in the Home

  • Posted on: 23 September 2014
  • By: Tina McCoy

Argh! You know that feeling: Joey has been redirected for what feels like eighty times in the past ten minutes and he still hasn’t followed through on what you’ve asked him to do. In reality, it’s only been five times, but STILL… Maybe Mrs.Compliance, Joey’s 2nd grade teacher, has some tips…

Good teachers, over time, will develop the proverbial “bag of tricks,” a collection of strategies which help them in the classroom for management, compliance, instruction, etc. These strategies become essential to be able to get the essential job at hand, education and learning, done. However, things can be very different at home. Ms. Compliance cannot go home with Joey, assess the situation, and give his parents strategies that apply to their own situation.

Teachers helping parents with advice and strategies can have a positive return on that investment in the classroom as well. In part two of this series we will discuss how you can help parents with strategies to help their children cooperate and follow through on their requests at home.


  • Assessing the Parent-Child bond, as discussed in the past installment, is a good starting point. Do the parents and the child have a good relationship? Is it stronger between one parent and the child, but weaker with the other? Offering the suggestions in the last newsletter to get them going would be helpful.
  • Structure…the more chaotic and unpredictable the home environment, the more likely there will be difficulties with compliance. Give strategies for structure and routine.
  • It would be necessary to try and determine the motivator for the lack of cooperation. There are only four functions of behavior: accessing attention, things or activities, sensory input, and avoidance or escape. Speak with the parents regarding why they think their child may not be cooperating with them.
    • For example, is it reluctance to clean his or her room? Could the child be avoiding the room cleaning because it’s a huge task to them and they may/may not have the skills? If that’s the case the parent could help the child with organizational strategies to get him or her started.
    • Is the parent asking the child to do something, say to get ready to go grocery shopping, while he or she is playing or watching a favorite show (accessing a preferred activity). In this case, the child could be warned ahead of time and the parent may want to set up the routine to avoid having to get ready when the child is participating in expected, preferred events.
    • Is the child refusing to go outside and play because he or she feels that it’s too hot? (sensory.) A timer could be set for opportunities to come in and cool off.
    • Has he been bothering his older sister? She could be reacting in a way that gives him lots of attention. This just may be getting him attention from you when you repeat attempts to get  him to leave her alone.

Most often, it is likely that the motivator is to delay or avoid the task, or to get attention from the parent. Sometimes, the child’s past behavior was met with disapproval, which could impact his desire to complete the task at all if he perceives that people are unhappy with his job.

  • Consequences…are there any and what are they?  These could include incentives, as well as removal of privileges. Are they clear and consistent? For example, does completion of daily chores always receive the checkmark on the chart or is it only sometimes? Does refusal to be ready for the bus result in loss of TV time later on every time, or only sometimes? Look at what is being utilized for an incentive and help the parent determine if it’s working. If the parents are using a negative consequence strategy only, help them come up with some incentives for a more positive approach. Following through on consequences, whether it is a negative or positive one, key.
  • Communication is key: does the child understand what is expected? Are the parents listening if the child feels that he doesn’t really understand what to do or how to do it. Are the parents keeping their own frustration in check? It’s very important to keep calm.

I hope that you find the suggestions helpful in your continued work with parents and children. Next month  we will visit another common issue in the home, Arguing. Stay tuned!

 This article is authored by Jeannemarie Ackerman, M.Ed. BCBA, who is a member or the McCoy Educational Consulting, LLC team. Learn more about Jeannemarie in the 'About Us' section of our website.

 "Welcome to the Secrets of Modern Parenting." Welcome to the Secrets of Modern Parenting. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Aug. 2014