It became clear from the start that Skylar and Luke (names changed) were going to cause the most trouble in our small group. The two of them entirely changed the dynamic of our meetings when they were present and were constantly disruptive.
At first I thought they were acting out and trying to get attention. I told myself that eventually they would calm down once I showed them unconditional love, but I was wrong.
After a few weeks I pulled Skylar and Luke aside and told them I liked having them in our group, but that I needed them to be less disruptive during our meetings. They acknowledged what I said but I saw no change in their behavior the next week.
Weeks turned into months and I still saw no change. That’s when I knew I was in for the long haul with those guys. The problem was that they came almost every week. On the one had I was glad they came consistently but our small group meetings would have been a whole lot smoother and more productive if they didn’t come.
Eventually I reached a point where I was out of ideas. Skylar and Luke weren’t doing anything downright horrible but they were consistently naughty and I wasn’t seeing much change.
I decided to humble myself and ask one of our main female volunteer leaders for advice. I explained our group’s ongoing struggle with Skylar and Luke.
She provided a simple and insightful suggestion. She said, “You’ve got to hang out with Skylar and Luke outside of your small group. Just you and them. Build a relationship with them and let them know you care about them.”
So I did just that. The following summer I took them out fishing because that’s something they both love to do. I don’t like fishing but know it’s important to do things students enjoy. I even put worms on fishing hooks, and I HATE touching worms!
I don’t know what they thought of our fishing trip. They mostly acted like normal while we were there. At best they were a little less subdued than when they were in our small group. The funny thing is that while we were fishing they said they loved our small group.
By trying to build a relationship with them I hope I communicated love and acceptance. Spending quality time with kids can go much further in modifying their behavior than by trying to use punishment and discipline.
Don’t try to “fix” the naughty boys in your life. Your first priority is building a relationship with them. A warm, trusting relationship can cover over a multitude of behavior issues.
Question: How do you deal with the naughty boys in your life? You can leave a comment by clicking here.