Some tips on boy behavior.
Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy
The boys have fun, do exciting new things and feel good about themselves. The leaders achieve the aims of Scouting, the boys are safe and they all get through the meetings with a minimum of damage and tears.
Here are some ideas on how to reach this state of grace. I am writing this mostly with den meetings in mind but much of what follows applies equally as well to pack meetings and other Scouting activities. Some of the most important points, I learned during my years working at the archery and bb-gun ranges at camp. There we had zero tolerance for misbehavior.
Well planned programs.
The first, and most critical, step toward controlling the behavior of the boys is to plan a good program. Boys, who are having a good time, rarely cause trouble.
And I do mean plan. Your meetings need to be filled with short, fun-filled activities each lasting no more than 10 minutes. Lean heavily on activities recommended in Cub Scout Program Helps or The How-To Book. Switch between sitting, standing and running or jumping; between slow and fast, even indoors and outside. Games with rules tend to foster good behavior because children generally like them. Craft projects complicate things. Boys often require a lot of individual attention and may be easily bored or confused. In any case, keep it short.
Good planning will also ensure that you have all the equipment, material and snacks ready and on hand for the action. Plan more than you think you will need. Have extra stuff ready in case something doesn’t work out. You can always use the leftovers at another meeting.
Write out your plan and share it with your assistants.
Get and hold their attention.
Wearing a uniform gets attention and respect. It is worth the cost and if it you wear it correctly and with pride you should see a difference on how boys react to you.
Use the Cub Scout sign. The alert ears of the wolf are the signal that something important is about to happen. Wait until everyone responds and settles down before continuing. Start using the sign in Tigers with compliance of the parents and things will be great.
Use ceremonies. The opening ceremony says: the meeting is starting and I am in charge. The closing says: the meeting is over and it’s time to go home (or snack). Ceremonies should be attention grabbers. Keep them dramatic, short and to the point.
They know what’s expected of them.
Boys often misbehave just because they are not sure how they are expected act. They are imaginative and invent their own standards of behavior. You don’t want that.
You will need a Code of Conduct – a set of rules that we all follow at our meetings. They should be written out, posted, and both boys and parents made aware of them. Let the boys have input into setting these rules. Not only is this a learning experience for them but it also makes the rules more effective when the boys have some ownership.
Follow the rules consistently, fairly and good naturedly. Everything should, of course, comply with the Cub Scout Ideals: the Promise, the Law of the Pack and the Cub Scout Motto.
Give each boy individual attention.
Use each boy’s name a lot. Children crave attention and, the last time I priced it, attention was an inexpensive commodity. Give out lots off it at your meetings. Use positive statements like
“I’m so glad you’re here today.”
“I'm glad you're in my den!
“That was the best ever!
“I thought of you during the week.”
“You must have been practicing.”
“You figured that out fast.”
My own rule of thumb is four positive remarks for each negative one like: “Stop!, That’s wrong, or Don’t do it that way.”
This is going to spread you around rather thin, so you will need the help of assistants and hopefully a Den Chief if you give boys the attention they need.
Build a team.
Build pride in your den. Use lots of standard team building gimmicks like den flags, doodles, cheers, secret codes etc.
Uniform inspections instill pride in appearance and this spills over to pride in conduct. Boys just seem to act better when they are in uniform. It may be that the love to act out roles and their uniforms are their stage costumes.
Watch for signs of discrimination or exclusion. Counter these with our Ideals: Cub Scouts give good will, Cub Scouts help other people. Never allow any boy feel that he is not a welcomed member.
Give each boy a chance to lead or star. There are opportunities in each of the boys’ books for leadership roles. Use them in your den programs. Skits and ceremonies at pack meetings give boys opportunities to stand out. Make sure that each of your boys gets these chances.
Use the denner , change denners regularly.
There are many reasons why an individual boy may pose a problem. Things go on at home, at school, in the playground and elsewhere that can affect how he behaves at your meetings. He may need and want your help. At the very least, he wants you to care.
Get to know him. Talk to him and his parents. You can’t judge him fairly if you don’t understand what is bothering him.
Remember that it is always possible that the problem may be so serious that it is beyond your ability to help. If you suspect a critical or dangerous situation exists, call in the support of your Pack Committee, your Chartered Organization or your Scouting professionals.
How to Behave So Your Children Will Too.
Born To Explore.
Bill’s Boy Behavior Page.