These ideas will help you get kids’ cooperation to work on ongoing discipline issues

Even the best discipline techniques can’t be used by themselves in a vacuum. They only work in a relationship. The key to a good relationship, especially when there are discipline problems, is communication.

If a behavior problem is repeating, whether it’s the whole group or an individual, try brainstorming solutions. Kids can be very good at sizing up a situation and offering problem-solving ideas. If you approach problem-solving in terms of working cooperatively and respectfully with each other, not in terms of winning or losing, kids will probably feel it’s safe to join you.

State the behavior that needs changing and why it needs changing. Say that you care about the child or group. “When you call kids names, it’s hard for everyone to feel safe and cared about in club. I care about your feelings and I care about the other kids’ feelings.” Ask what could help the child or group do better in the future. See how many possible solutions you can brainstorm together. Don’t judge any ideas yet; just be creative. Even what seems like a wild idea may have a seed of a solution in it.


  • Remind us of the rule at the beginning of every meeting.
  • Call me a mean name if I call someone a mean name. (This won’t be one you’ll try!)
  • We could come up with cool nicknames for everyone.
  • You could give us a treat if we follow the rule.
  • Make the kids be nice to me. (This could give you a great insight and a jumping-off place for more talking.)
  • (Leader’s idea) I could give you a thumbs-up when you follow the rule.

Then narrow down ideas until you find one you both think will be helpful. Take a vote if the problem involves the whole group. Give the child or group enough time to try it out. If it doesn’t work, try a different idea. Keep trying: the kids are worth it!