Positive behaviour needs to be planned for, modelled, taught and acknowledged; it does not happen by accident.
Know the young people and parents/carers in your section
See each young person as an individual, find out about any disabilities or additional needs, and establish an open and positive relationship with parents or carers. This will help with insight into the cause of any behaviours and how to best respond.
Managing the transition between sections is important, so that a new young person coming into the section knows the leaders and other young people within the section and how the section works. Making use of buddies during this process can be particularly valuable for a new young person so that they don’t feel alone or isolated.
Good Programme planning
Plan activities that are age-appropriate, well organised and that young people have been involved in planning. Review how activities and meetings are planned, organised and delivered.
Include co-operative games and activities in your programme. Use some games that require listening or silence to build on these skills.
Restrict the use knockout games, Is it the same children who are out first? Manage those who are out
With all games, including ones which are familiar, go over the rules or instructions each time before you begin. Have a start signal i.e. ‘When I say go, you can start.’ If some people are not following the rules, stop the game and explain the rules again.
When scoring, do it fairly not in your head so that things are open and honest.
Have something for the children to do as they arrive. Unstructured play, like football, is likely to lead to bad behaviors or young people becoming more energetic.
Have enough adults: Use parents.
Establish good routines and systems
Have a routine for meetings. Start and finish ‘formally’ and set expectations of what is required from young people, adults and parents/carers at that particular meeting.
Use similar routines each time for explanations, e..g. everyone sitting down in small groups. Ensure that everyone understands the purpose of these i.e. to move on to the activity/game as soon as possible.
Use signals so that you do not need to use your voice all the time. E.g., hand in the air means stop talking and pay attention. When the young people see a leader raise their hand they stop what they are doing (movement and noise) and put their hand up too. This then spreads across the Section.
Leader stands still and is quiet while their hand is raised (demonstrating the expected behaviour) and that any other leaders in the room are also quiet at this time, reinforcing the expected behaviour. Give notice, like counting down from five to zero. The Leader can hold their hand out in front and start counting down from five, folding fingers down with the countdown. Finish with a statement along the lines of, ‘And you are now quiet and listening’
Use a red, amber and green card system, usually when a child is causing danger or has hurt someone – 5 minutes to go and think about what they did, and then a talk with a leader about what happened. If behaviour improves, show the green card.
Here are some good tips in running activities, to encourage positive behaviour:
- Before starting to explain activities and games make sure you have everyone’s attention.
- Stop if someone interrupts or starts to chatter to their neighbour. When someone is talking, others (including other adults) should be silent. Keep explanations and demonstration sessions short and to the point and use bite size statements. Don’t ramble!
- Ensure the young people know why you are asking them to do a particular thing.
- If doing an activity that can be explained in two stages, such as crafts, let them start and pause to explain the next step.
- Check if everyone has understood the instructions before beginning the activity.
Use positive language and communication
- Be assertive in your communication.
- Allow young people to speak without interruption and listen to what they are saying.
- When speaking to everyone, project your voice so that everyone can hear, but do not shout – speaking quietly will eventually get them to be quiet and listen. Once you have their attention, they have to try harder to listen. Where necessary, speak firmly without shouting. Use a whistle sparingly if at all.
- When young people are engaged in an activity do not expect an instant response – with many young people it takes a period of time for them to register and process an instruction, or even that you are speaking. It can be beneficial for you to make the request, stop and silently count to six and then repeat the same statement or instruction.
- When talking about bad behaviour, focus on the behaviour itself not the young person, to avoid negative labelling.
Offer praise and recognition
- Praise and rewarding appropriate behaviour is more effective in the long term, than focusing on inappropriate behaviour. Get into the practise of providing age-appropriate encouragement and praise. “Two stars and a wish”
- Foster a culture of praise and not blame. This will encourage good behaviour. Praise young people for doing the right thing rather than criticising those doing the wrong thing. ‘Thank you’ and ‘Well done’ need to be heard and meant when talking to young people and between leaders too.
- Devise ways of recognising achievement. An appropriate points system with, for instance, a round of applause for the group with the most points at the end of the night, and a small prize at the end of term for the winning team. You can also be use things like certificates to reward those that arrive on time, wear their uniform correctly or any other single aspect of behaviour you want to highlight?
- You could have a ‘Scout of the month’ award that can be given according to whatever focus of behaviour, e.g. attendance, is required. Rewards could include a trophy to look after for the month, the presentation of a certificate.
Lead by example
Model the behaviour you want. Leaders should stop and listen when instructions are being given out (or explain what they aren’t “Joe is getting the next game ready”)