HomeHealth & BehaviorBehavior & Discipline

How to raise a team player

Seven fun activities that teach kids the value of pitching in and helping others.

By Rob Baedeker

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Play (and work) well with others

Are you children team players? People who happily help out at home and include others at school? Kids who know not just how to lead but, when it’s required, to follow?

There are compelling reasons to teach your children how to be more of a “Go team!” and less of an “I am the center of the universe” kind of kid. Children in the habit of sharing responsibilities and working with others — whether at home or at school — tend to be less self-centered and more respectful, responsible, cooperative, resilient, and self-sufficient. Research on kids and chores done in 2003 by Marty Rossmann, emeritus associate professor of family education at the University of Minnesota, found that those who regularly do household chores from an early age are far more likely to be successful young adults.

But teaching kids the value of teamwork doesn’t have to be a wag-your-finger “Do this now!” exercise (unless you're prepared to deal with the requisite moans and groans of “That’s not fair!” and “I don’t want to”).

What follows are seven activities to give kids practice at being part of a team. These work for a range of ages and abilities — just remember to have patience with younger children. They may not get every chore or game right, but it's the spirit of teamwork that counts.

Rob Baedeker is a writer living in Berkeley, Calif. He is the coauthor, with the Kasper Hauser comedy group, of SkyMaul: Weddings of the Times and Obama's BlackBerry.

Comments from readers

"These activities are the kind which are used in theater arts classrooms. This is another example of why arts education is valuable. It teaches behaviors that are not addressed in the more traditional classrooms. Parents, insist that your school keep the arts in the curriculum."