Each of us who have been a CSB leader for any length of time have had a problem boy or young man who challenges the leader’s patience and is disruptive to the other Stockade or Battalion participants. I am aware of leaders who have quit in frustration because of the disruptive spirit of a boy. Often this boy is a bully who causes other boys to quit coming because they become tired of being picked on. But this doesn’t need to be the case. Allow me to tell you a true story of a Stockade boy I had in my unit.
Tommy had been giving all of the Stockade leaders a hard time since the early fall kickoff. As Chief Ranger I had to reprimand him every week and his Post Ranger became increasingly frustrated. It came to a head one night when his Ranger approached me and told me he was quitting. I asked the Ranger if I could speak to the boy one more time before his decision was final and I prayed for wisdom as I approached Tommy and asked to speak with him. I knew one thing in my favor was that Tommy loved attending Stockade. When I had taken Tommy to a quiet corner I simply made the following comment and asked him this question; “Tommy, your Ranger told me tonight that he is quitting and I know that it is because you are being so disruptive. I have one question for you. Do you think it will be easier for me to recruit a new Ranger or to ask you not to come back.” Tommy looked at me and in all sincerity said; “It will be easier for you to ask me not to come back.” I responded; “Is that what you want?” Tommy replied; “No, I want to come to Stockade.” I then responded by telling him his behavior would have to change or I will be speaking with his parents informing them that their son was no longer welcome at Stockade. I would like to say we never had to speak to Tommy again. That would be a lie. But I can say that his behavior improved to an “acceptable” level, I didn’t lose my Ranger and the rest of the year and the following year were much better.
Below are several thoughts with regards to boys with behavioral problems:
Nearly every problem boy is a boy who has or is experiencing trauma in his life. Boys nearly always act out because they are hurting and don’t know how to properly express the pain they are experiencing. It is important to get to know each boy. Often, when we know a little more of his life’s challenges we can be more patient. This does not mean that we condone his behavior or allow it to continue. Rather, when we begin to understand that the behavior is the outcome of the trauma he is experiencing in his life and we begin to assist him in appropriately dealing with his trauma in light of redemptive healing, his behavior often improves almost overnight. You may need to speak with your pastor or a trained Christian counselor about specific ways you can encourage the boy. I would not suggest for a leader to attempt to work through trauma with the boy other than allowing him to speak about his deep hurts. If you are beginning to feel over your head, ask your pastor who he might recommend to come alongside of the boy in addition to the unit leaders.
Building a Relationship
One of the most important ways you can come alongside of a disruptive boy is to build a relationship with him. Let him know you really care about him. Often a disruptive boy only sees adults as people who are always trying to correct him; not someone who cares and wants to get to know him. This is particularly true of a fatherless boy who may never have had a close relationship with a man who is a role model.
He May be a Pastor Some Day
As you build a relationship with him you begin to gain permission to speak into his life. You become someone the boy sees as someone who cares and can speak truth and he is much more likely to hear what you have to say. This cannot be overstated and often lead to the immense privilege of introducing him to his Heavenly Father. I have heard numerous true stories about problem Stockaders who came to faith through the ministry of CSB and are now pastors.
Encouragement is Vital
A disruptive boy nearly always needs encouragement more than most boys. So when it is appropriate, be on the lookout to encourage him in front of the other boys in game time or when he has the correct answer when a question is asked while the post is working on a module or during Story Circle or Council Ring.
Sometimes He Shouldn’t Come Back
Understand that there are some boys or young men that are so disruptive that they must be asked to not come back. This is a very hard decision and must not be done in haste or in anger, but an entire unit cannot be side tracked because one boy is not responding and is making it impossible for the weekly meeting to occur without chaos. This was true of a Battalion-aged young man in my unit. In my role as Brigade Chairman, the Battalion Captain and I came to the conclusion together that this was the only option left. The last time I saw that young man he was in the back seat of a police car that was driving past my house. I then lost track of him. Only God knows if the several years he spent in Stockade and Battalion have made an impact for eternity on his life.