What to do when … Boys act silly, throw things at each other and disrupt the program

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.

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A statement frequently heard by the wives of Brigade leaders as their husbands walk in the door after a meeting is “Boy, those kids were wild tonight. It was all we could do to keep up with them.” Your experience may echo this statement. Almost any group of boys has the capacity of turning an organized meeting into chaos and turmoil within a short period of time. Leaders who thought they were running the program suddenly find the boys creating their own. The man with little patience for the exuberance of boyhood soon grows frustrated. Immature behavior by boys need to be understood, but not necessarily tolerated. The solution is to channel the energy of boys into productive activities. How does a leader do this?

Recognize that your most effective weapon is an active, well-planned program

Boys often start acting silly when they are bored or when they are not doing something active. A good meeting that holds boys’ attention is one in which the group moves promptly from one activity to the next. The pace should be quick so that boys have to run to keep up. This requires rangers and noncoms who have shared in the planning and who are fulfilling their responsibilities (if they have failed to prepare their part of the meeting, get ready for trouble). We must emphasize at this point the importance of leaders preparing. Our materials are structured to make this as easy as possible but it nevertheless will take a few minutes to review the content of the weekly meeting, your story, or the materials you have been assigned to bring. A few minutes of preparation each week will save you time and will make the experience pleasant and valuable for everyone.

Observe the effect of peer influence and do not let it work against you

Silly behavior is contagious; one boy gets another started. When possible, separate boys who fool around when they are together. Assign them to different squads or posts. Go and sit down between them. Do not let them sit together in the Council Ring or Story Circle unless an adult leader is sitting with them. Knowing which combinations spark idiocy and addressing it ahead of time helps limit inappropriate goofiness and also shows the boys you know what’s going on.

Guard your anger

Avoid open displays of your anger or frustration at boys’ immature behavior, but do not suppress it either. Rather, confess your frustration in a calm manner and let boys know that certain kinds of behavior are unacceptable. Sarcastic remarks toward individual boys are not appropriate for leaders, ever. Nor are idle threats. Before words come out of your mouth it is vital you consider what is motivating them and what you hope to accomplish with them. If you do show your anger in an inappropriate way you now have an opportunity to model confession and repentance. Let the boys hear you say “I shouldn’t have lost my temper. That was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Brigade is far more about these contexts in which the fruit of Christian living are modeled than about running a well oiled program.

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Read a story about a man asking a boy for forgiveness

Read a story about forgiving deep hurts

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Decide how rigid you want to be

Some matters are not worth fighting over. A little patience and humor are helpful tools. Ignoring wisecracks and silliness is often the better approach. It’s almost impossible to keep a group of boys absolutely silent and motionless for any period of time. A leader must accept a certain degree of noise and commotion. Behaviors that are destructive or disrespectful should be stopped, however. If boys are reprimanded for some action, a good reason should be given (e.g. throwing objects that create a mess which the church janitor must clean up). If something is damaged (e.g. broken window) , the boys who are responsible should pay for the repair. Have some work assignments in mind if boys need to earn the money. Be firm with all rules that are made and enforce them consistently.

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This series was adapted from a resource that has been used by Brigade leaders for decades.

View a list of all the problems covered in this series.

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