Constructive Behavior Management
Fast Forward to 5:13
Contrary to how it is often portrayed, supervising campers is not simply about controlling their behavior. In fact, it's just as important for you to focus on your own emotional responses and to focus on the health and overall well-being of everyone in the program, not simply “dealing” with an individual act of bad behavior.
With that in mind, it can be helpful to think about three things before responding to behavior issues:
- Does this type of behavior typically frustrate or agitate me?
- How are my emotions building a reaction?
- How can I remain calm and form an appropriate response?
- Why is the child acting like this?
- Does the child think this is normal or appropriate behavior?
- What else is going on in the child's life to cause this behavior?
Understanding the Environment:
- What type of activity was going on? (e.g. competitive games solicit competitive behaviors)
- Is heat, exhaustion or hunger influencing the behavior?
- What are the social ranks in the group?
When responding to “bad” or disruptive behavior, try these specific steps in response:
For Individual Campers:
- At eye level, make eye contact. Drop down to the child’s eye level by kneeling or sitting next to the child
- Use the camper’s name
- Use a firm, emotionally neutral tone of voice
- Verbally tell what you want them to do. Give a short, specific command. (e.g. tell the camper to “walk”, don't tell the camper “do not run”.)
- Use visual cues through gesturing
For Emotional Campers and Emotional Situations:
- Separate the child from the group, or the group from the child
- Maintain a neutral and quiet tone of voice, and listen to the camper
- Do not intimidate the child by pointing, yelling, or leaning over them
- Do not block an exit or block the camper in the corner.
When you plan your response, ask yourself: “How can I make this an opportunity to learn and improve?” Reframe mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow.