Competition vs cooperation. Teach to cooperate. 

Education is important and knowing how to teach young children is essential, especially when we are talking about cooperating or competing.

child care


During childhood, it is important to teach our children values, since we lay the moral foundations on these values for the people that they will become in the future. This discipline is about conveying the behaviours and attitudes that introduce children to skills like tolerance, respect, inclusion, diversity, patience and generosity, among others.

One of these skills is the importance of teaching team work or cooperation, a way of life that is becoming increasingly important in our society, whether in school, work, family or in our friendships. Below we give you the keys to teaching this discipline. 

The difference between cooperating and competing 

We understand that two people cooperate when they try to mutually benefit from the work they do, either alone, but with the team in mind, or by working together; while two people compete when they try to beat the other person, for their own glory or to get something that won’t be available for others. Hence, while cooperation is about sharing both the benefits and losses of shared effort, competition involves a solitary victory and, in many cases, the team destruction as a result of work carried out poorly because of the hunger for power.

“Everyone talks about peace, but nobody educates for peace, people educate for competition and this is the beginning of any war. When we educate to cooperate and owe each other solidarity, that day we will be educating for peace”. Maria Montessori.

The importance to teaching cooperation and healthy competition 

Teaching cooperation does not mean teaching conformism. In addition to the benefits that cooperative or shared work can bring us, so-called healthy competition also exists, which is simply about teaching children the “spirit of improvement”: in other words, teaching our children not to focus on other people's work or on beating the person next to you, but to improve themselves each day, making an effort to take advantage of their own skills, both intellectual and physical or social. 

How to teach cooperation and self-improvement 

  1. Lead by example: up to a certain age, children are like sponges and learn by example and from the behaviour they see at the heart of the home. If parents cooperate with others or with each other, the child will tend to copy this behaviour and, later on, will take on and develop that behaviour in their day-to-day life.
  2. Planning as a family: a good way to teach cooperation is to plan household routines and chores together, where each member of the family has a responsibility, and show the shared benefit of this team work. 
  3. Teaching via positive values: associate effort and progress with positive values and not to feelings of power like “being the best”, “winning” or “losing”.
  4. Encourage positive and selfless attitudes: encourage attitudes of kindness, cooperation, team work and helping others. “If you selflessly help others, they will help you when you need it”.
  5. You don’t need to win to make progress: instil in them that you don't always need to win, but it is always necessary to improve and work hard to grow in all aspects. Teach by setting gradual and achievable objectives for him or her. 
  6. Avoid comparisons with others: don’t establish comparisons between who wins or loses, focus on their own achievements. It’s easy to fall into “look at Joe Blogs: if he can do it, you can too”. This type of attitude only creates feelings of selfishness, resentment, frustration and fear of failure. 
  7. All problems are an opportunity in disguise: teach that losing is also necessary to learn to progress in life and look for new strategies for self-improvement and self-development.