Parents and educators often have a conditioned response to children's independent achievements. When a child does extremely well with a challenging project, the first reaction of the teacher usually is: "Did you do it all by yourself?" If the child answers, "yes," he or she will be complimented and rewarded. If the child says, "I had other people help me," a sign of disappointment appears on the teacher's face.

Perhaps we should reconsider our response. When a child says, "I asked others to help me," this is a sign that s/he is able to get cooperation and input from others. A child who possesses this trait has a much greater potential for success later in life.

In real life, none of us have all the skills needed for success. As our sages teach, "Who is wise? One who learns from everyone." A wise person seeks the cooperation and help of others, especially of those who have knowledge and skills which they do not posses themselves. It is important to teach our children at an early age how to get cooperation from others.

There has to be a balance in this, of course. We want our children to learn how to ask for and receive assistance and cooperation from others, but not to have others take over the project or the assignment that the child has been given. We need to make sure that the child is doing his or her best, and only asking for assistance to take it to the next step. The child should be challenged and stimulated to do things which are a little difficult for him or her. Setting goals that are easily reached on one's own will take away the challenge and the stimulation, while setting goals which are completely unrealistic for the child lead to lack of self-esteem and fear of failure.

Asking for and receiving assistance is a skill to be learned and mastered, no less than the ability to do things on one's own. Here are six general "help-getting" skills:

1) Know whom to ask for what — ask a person for help in an area that s/he has the ability to help you. (Don't ask a poor man for a loan of $10,000.)

2) Be very specific about what you want. The more specific you are the more chance you have of getting it.

3) Explain why you need it.

4) Tell the person how they will benefit from the joined effort. (I call this tuning in to WIT FM — "What's In There For Me" radio — the station that most people are interested in listening to).

5) Have the confidence they are going to respond positively. A statement like, "Is it too hard for you to help me?" does not show that you really believe that this is something that should interest them.

6) Most important of all, don't get discouraged when a person says "No". Look for someone else who will say yes.

These six simple but specific steps can be applied more broadly as well, to all relationships between people. When both parties are very clear on what they are expecting to put in and get out of the relationship, it's more likely that they will get it. A lack of clarity in expressing what one of the parties wants can make them feel that the other does not care for them or love them when in fact the other would be more than happy to comply, if only they were told specifically what is needed.

Try it. It works!