Discipline For Youth Leaders
By Abb Thomas
A. Discipline is important. Personal discipline will cause you to become a great leader. Discipline will force you to plan, make ready, and generally to know exactly where you are going.
Primarily, in this section we speak of the discipline that will help direct young minds into an effective learning situation. Discipline problems could almost totally destroy any real learning from the young person.
How Soon – How Far
How soon do we begin with discipline? This must be instilled into the teens mind during his first orientation. He needs to clearly understand that he will submit to the leaders and follow their direction. This rule can be given in love, and with a smile. The child must know that violations will subject him to dismissal.
How far do you go before action is taken? Experience is a great teacher in this, although it is often a rough teacher. Obviously, kids are different. As you discipline one young person all others have indirectly been disciplined. Others see clearly how far you are willing to go with your actions. Stick with your rules, being sure always to “use your head”.
Make a public example of one problem child if necessary. This technique clearly states your stand to the entire group. Discipline – Do it in love and kindness, but DO IT!!
B. The Problem
Someone has said that, “there is a bad apple in every barrel,” and this is nowhere more evident, than in the church youth ministry. Every youth group has a problem teen who always disturbs when he should be quiet.
What are we to do with this type of person:
As a youth leader our goal is to reach and win boys and then teach and train them so that they can reach and win other boys. But what about the trouble-makers? We realize, of course, that a boy needs to grow from where he is spiritually: so we need to accept them where they are and then try to help them mature. But, what can we do with those who will not allow themselves to be taught and who make it nearly impossible for those who wish to be taught?
The problem, therefore, is: “How can we reach the troubled boy and at the same time meet the needs of the more ‘socially adjusted ones?”
C. The Problem Teen
In order to answer the above problem it is necessary to first understand why problem boys are problems.
There are basically three types of problem boys who disrupt and make effective teaching and other activities difficult.
(1) The Hostile boy who is rebellious and angry and disobedient and may even engage in fighting Many of out bus children are what we could call hostile children. The hostile person is usually very insecure and has a deep feeling of being unwanted. Many children who are from broken homes or who have much parental rejection will develop hostility. They feel unwanted and because of this, anger builds up and they will vent it in any way they can.
(2) The Nuisance boy, who is not actively rebellious; but he continually does things to gain attention. The things he does are always in the line of pestering someone, practical joking, etc. Many boys of this type go around and punch other boys and pinch them, etc. This boy usually comes from a home background where there is lack of attention and love. He craves attention and being a nuisance is the only way he knows how to get it. Note: _A proven principle of counseling is that _a person would rather have negative attention than none at all. In other words boy who is craving attention would rather be scolded or reprimanded for his actions (because this is still attention) than to have no attention at all.
(3) The Clown Boy who is also craving attention; but who tries to get it by his clowning around. He is the most easy to accept because his activities are not as annoying as the two preceding; but his problems are no less sincere. He wants attention and he can get it by his activities. He may make bird calls while you are teaching, throw paper airplanes or do just about anything for a laugh. In summary, thus, it should be clear that problem boys are problems because they have a need in their life which must be met. They need to feel wanted or they need affection and they will try to get it in any way possible. Our Goal: We need to find a way to meet their needs in a way which does not produce undesirable behavior, because undesirable behavior is so disruptive to teaching situations that no one can learn.
D. The Principle
1. In General
The Bible demands obedience and boys should obey their parents and others in places of authority.
Note the following:
“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.” Col 3:20
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.” Rom. 13:1a
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves.” Heb. 13; 17a
“He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuses reproof erreth.” Prov. 10:17
You, as a leader must not tolerate continual lack of obedience.
2. In Specific
a. The importance of requiring obedience.
First, the Bible commands it.
Secondly, you only have a short time with your pupils so you must make the best of it.
Thirdly, the effectiveness of your teaching makes it mandatory.
Fourth, your boys want discipline. They will respect you for requiring and enforcing it.
b. The Importance of your attitude.
(1) Your teaching should be so wellprepared and stimulating that the boy will not want to disturb.
(2) You should make your pupils or boys feel wanted so that they will not have to act up.
(3) You should show affection to your boys through your interest (NOT PHYSICAL AFFECTION, SUCH AS HUGGING, ETC…) in them and sincere love toward them.
(4) You should pray for the problem boy everyday that God will work in his life, INSTEAD of
E. Some Practical Notes
1. Other reasons for disruptive behavior
a. Poorly prepared lessons
b. Poor accommodations and materials
c. Poor application of teaching to age of pupils.
Note: A boy will not and cannot sit still for a solid hour while you “teach” them. A junior age pupil has an attention span of about 1220 Minutes. If you do not vary the material and approach he will not sit still.
2. Some preventive measures to stop problems before they happen.
a. Keep eye contact with your pupils while teaching.
b. Have program perfectly planned so that “free time” to become restless is at a minimum.
c. Get to know your boys personally so that they will learn to love and respect you and they will not want to disturb.
d. Teach them from the Bible that God requires everyone to be obedient to those who are in authority.
e. It is impossible for boys to sit motionless for a long period of time. Use action methods in your teaching, such as singing choruses while standing, move into groups, etc. Your lessons are geared this way.
f. A boy will be quiet when he is interested in what he is doing or what you are
saying. Make everything you do interesting.
g. When a boy is disturbing, call the name of the boy and include him in the story
you are telling or in the lesson while you are teaching.
h. Be prompt in starting and ending a class.
i. Never make rules that you won’t follow consistently.
j. Give awards for good behavior. Have a special chair picked out and at the end of class give a prize to the person sitting in that seat if he was good. When a noted rebellious boy manages to do good then have his chair be the one which won, etc.
3. Some emergency measures to handle problems when they arise.
a. Never let a disruptive boy ruin your class. Put them out of the class if you have tried everything and nothing works.
b. If a pupil disrupts while you are teaching, try above. If this does not work, stop teaching and look at the problem boy.
c. Another method is to ask the problem boy a question and try to get him involved.
Have a personal conference with the boy after the meeting is over and insure him that he is wanted and that you want him to behave or you will have to expel him form the class. If the personal conference does not work then have a talk with the parents if this is possible. As a last resort put the child out of the class.
Never Sacrifice The Benefit Of Your Whole Class For One Person.
Remember to try and not meet a boy’s basic need for attention by showing attention to their misbehavior. If it is possible to ignore it until you can have a personal conference with them then do so. But if the behavior disturbs others then stronger action may be needed.
Some Ways To Promote The Youth Group
The following is a list of ways in which the youth group can be promoted:
A. INDIVIDUAL: The most outstanding and influential advertising or promotion is the teen himself. An enthusiastic teen can do more for building a youth group than all of the following combined. Therefore, striveto change the life of the teen to conform to the Scriptures and others will see his life and follow after it. And a teen who is filled with the Spirit of God cannot help but be enthusiastic.
B. DIRECT MAILING: A personal letter to a teen could be one of the most influential things that a youth director could do. When a teen visits the group for the first time write him a personal letter. Also duplicated advertisements of forthcoming activities are beneficial in reaching a wide group of teens.
C. HANDOUTS: These are generally for promotional purposes proclaiming a future event. These can be given to all the Sunday School teens and passed out on visitation. These can be given out door to door in shopping areas or anywhere. They are especially helpful when trying to reach a great number of teens for some evangelistic rally.
D. POSTERS: These can be made by the teens or done professionally and placed anywhere that they will gather attention. Often times a “blowup” of a handout. can be used as posters.
E. NEWSPAPERS: Many successful youth groups have their own newspapers either made by the teens or by the leaders. Also the local newspaper is always in need of some interesting news.
F. TELEPHONING: Have teen phoners who call all absentees or firsttime visitors and thank them for coming and ask them to come again. Have a phone canvass with all teens on the mailing list being called and notified of a special event coming up.
G. CALENDAR: Have pocket calendars professionally printed with all of the youth group activities on them with promotional materials added.
H. BULLETIN: Have a short paragraph in EVERY church bulletin telling of the events of the coming week.
I. RADIO/TV: If these are available to the youth group have a weekly teen program or have teens give testimonies occasionally on the regular church program.
J. BULLETIN BOARDS: These can be placed in strategic positions around the church to announce events or forward some program.
K. VISITATION: At the regular teen visitation during the week the teens and leaders will promote the group while soulwinning. If you can’t win them to the Lord on the street you can at least interest them in the program and they may come and give you another chance to win them.
L. SKITS: These are a good way to promote an activity or event. Have the teens work up something funny or exciting and use this to announce some event.
M. GIMMICKS: These are such things as pencils, balloons, stickers, lapel buttons, rulers, etc. The youth group can purchase these cheaply and use them to promote the group.
N. CLOTHING: A catchy name for the youth group or a catchy design with a good drawing can be put on T-shirts, sweat shirts, jackets, hats etc., to advertise the group.
O. BILLBOARDS: These can be rented and are rather expensive but if a large event, such as citywide youth revival, is being held then these can reach many people.
P. YOUTH DIRECTOR: He is perhaps the most important promoter of the youth group in the local church. Some principles to follow are;
1. Be a church man. In other words, stand behind the Pastoral leadership of the church and constantly promote the total church program to the youth.
2. Know every worker in the church and have a file of names and phone numbers and keep them informed of all youth group events that affect them.
3. Be the first person to welcome new families, especially those with teenage children. Visit all new teens the first week they visit the Church and promote the youth group.
4. Take opportunities to speak or be introduced before different agencies of the church.
5. Keep the pastor informed o£ all events and give him a calendar of events and after each event inform him of the results.
6. Send letters for appreciation to all who help in events.
Q. BOOKLETS: A small book on some subject can be made for the teen to read (dedication, fear, etc.) and on each booklet give promotional maternal for the youth group.
These are a few ways in which the youth group can be promoted. The idea conveyed was that any legitimate idea can be used to promote the youth work. There are many more than these and the user will have to use his imagination in discovering them.
Excerpted from: “Teen Leadership Manual”
Compiled and edited by Abb Thomas