Scouts-L Mail Archive for February of 1999: Re: How to discipline
Re: How to discipline
Ian N. Ford FRSH
Mon, 1 Feb 1999 16:46:43 -0000
From: Bill & Beth Reiller <reiller@EMAIL.MSN.COM>
To: SCOUTS-L@LISTSERV.TCU.EDU <SCOUTS-L@LISTSERV.TCU.EDU>
Date: 01 February 1999 09:22
Subject: How to discipline
> Our District Training Chair has asked me if I could gather from this
>list different ideas for acceptable discipline. Youth Protection, Guide to
>Safe Scouting and Scoutmaster Fundamentals all talk about unacceptable
>discipline, some of which now fall under hazing. At our upcoming
>Scoutmaster Fundamentals he would like to present a list of ideas for
>acceptable and contstructive measures.
I work from the assumption that any young person who chooses to
participating in a program such as Scouting must have some level of positive
self-esteem and motivation. Our role is to build on this spark.
Very often a " discipline problem " is actually a " program problem " ... if
youth are not given positive choices they will invent their own recreation.
One Leader complained that the Scouts were " disrespectful " during his
twenty minute long end of meeting announcements. The problem was he liked
the sound of his own voice and the boys didn't. The real " behaviour
problem" was with the adult.
Encourage positive behaviour... try to find something to praise. Talk to
the Scouts, ask how things are going. Show a friendly interest in their
homes, hobbies, school etc.
as well as just talking about " advancement ".
Give SPECIFIC behavioural feedback, positive and negative. " You led the
opening at the Court of Honor very well - everyone at the back could hear
what you said and you took your time with reading the script ." Or " You
might not agree with what John said, but calling him a dork was not really
appropriate. " Comment on behaviour not on your interpretation of it :
" That was a mean thing to say " implies that you understand why something
was done. " How would you feel if someone called you a retard ? " or "
It appears to me that the younger Scouts always get rostered to do the
dirty dishes and end up late for their next activity. What do you think ? "
With younger Scouts I have used a system of ask - tell - time out. In
other words, say there is some pushing and shoving going on ... " Don't
push and shove, please ! "
(no reaction) " I told you - stop the shoving. " (continues) " OK, five
minutes time out." The rules are that after time out the matter is closed,
the Scout resumes the activity and nobody is allowed to comment on the
Be proactive. Look for behaviour signals and body language that indicate
that trouble is about to happen and intervene. If you are faced with a
confrontation with an oppositional kid, don't take it personally. If you
feel yourself " losing it " take control. " I have said the trading post
is off limits today. I think we both need to calm down, then talk about it
calmly. " If necessary walk away. The idea of two-deep leadership is that
an adult can walk off and take time to calm down.
This weekend we had our district Merit Badge Fair, and I also ran a Den
Chief Seminar. One issue was the Scouts were saying that there had been
times when they had been punched and kicked by the boys in their den! They
were not allowed to retaliate, so how did they deal with it ? (Same problem
for adult Leaders, of course.) I
had the Den Chiefs practice stepping back, putting up their hands palm down
making " slow down " signals at the same time saying " Stop ! " ( Hard to
describe - ideally
get someone who has had " managing agression " training to demonstrate, e.g.
a social worker, psychologist, psychiatric nurse or law enforcement officer.
Note this is
NOT about restraint techniques, rather it is about use of appropriate
assertive behaviour to defuse a problem. )
If you get it wrong - apologise. The kids will respect you more than if you
try to brazen out a wrong decision.
Humour is a good tool provided it is not used as a means of humiliation.
It is often the inexperienced Scouters who have the problems ... often it is
about confidence and boundaries. With experience you learn that it is
relax and joke with the Scouts, and still be able to step back into
authoritarian mode if necessary. If you have built up a reserve of goodwill
and trust it is far easier to get them on your side if there are problems
and you have to make tough decisions. On the other hand, the leader who is
always shouting and finding fault will build up resentment that can also
spill over and make a problem worse.
Deprivation of food, drink, or sleep is NEVER acceptable, and may constitute
Anything designed with the primary intention of humiliating a child is not
There have been discussions on this list before about " forfeits " and
hazing, and that issue has probably been beaten to death, resurrected and
beaten to death again several times over.
Never make a threat that you can't or won't carry out. If the threat is to
send a child home from camp you need to have plans to manage that - again,
this has been discussed.