From the archive: 3 Strikes: Discipline in Youth Groups

15 September 2010 — Leave a comment

From the archive is a series of posts highlighting content previously posted on this blog that may be new to some readers or helpful to revisit: With many clubs and activities starting back this month after the summer break, it’s good to review our rules and procedures to ensure they are still useful and effective.

The original post was published on 16th October 2009 and can be found here

3 Strikes: Discipline in Youth Groups

There have been a couple of posts in my feed reader recently about behaviour and discipline in youth groups. Firstly Chris Kidd gave his top 12 tips for behaviour management which was then picked up by Ben over at DOPCANDY. So I thought I’d share the strategy that we use for keeping discipline at a lively youth group of around 60 teenagers.

To keep things simple, we only have three rules and three progressive levels of discipline. The three rules are:

  1. Show respect to others:
Make sure there is no name-calling, swearing, fighting or bullying.

  3. Show respect to the building and equipment:

  4. Please help make sure everything is kept clean and tidy. Tell a leader if something is broken or damaged.

  5. Join in and have fun:
  6. Get involved in all we’re doing!

Generally people stick to these rules, but there are always moments when things can get a little silly or heated. That’s where Strikes come in! Leaders are able to award strikes to a young person who has clearly broken one of the above rules.

  • 1 Strike is considered a warning. It encourages the young person to stay out of any more trouble.
  • If another incident occurs during the same session, and they are given a second strike, they then have to sit out of whatever activity we are doing for 10 minutes. It is a basic time-out device to allow them to calm down. Often this may involve sitting and chatting with a leader about the issue.
  • If another problem then occurs during the same session (or if they don’t calm down from the previous issue) the third strike is given. This means that they have to leave the club (and parents are called if appropriate). It also means that they are banned for the next session (usualy the following week). When someone is banned, we contact them to invite them back after the ban has finished. It is very important that the ban has a definite and short time span so that it does not hang over the young person or make them feel excluded from the group.

We have used this system across a number of activities for a few years and it now works very effectively. In addition, we reiterate the rules each week either verbally or by a scrolling powerpoint on screen. Because the young people clearly understand the rules, they tend to go along with the consequences.

So that’s what we do. What about everyone else out there? Any top tips for keeping discipline in a group?

Discipline Image credit: crypto on Flickr
Archive Image Credit: Dolescum on Flickr


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I am a qualified youth worker, writer and consultant based in Littlehampton, UK. I've worked in the voluntary youth sector for over 12 years, am married to Kirsty and we have two daughters named Hope and Eloise. Check out 'Journeying Together: Growing Youth Work and Youth Workers in Local Communities' and read my opening chapter.

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