It’s not uncommon to notice behaviors like bickering and inappropriate language use in a troop—no matter the age of the girls. This article for troop leaders covers common challenges and gives common solutions for handling these conflicts within troops.
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Mix Things Up to Break Up Cliques
When cliques start to form, have the girls mix it up. Partner up girls during troop meetings in a variety of fun ways—by their favorite ways to celebrate their birthdays, their zodiac signs, or their favorite movies. This is also a great way for the girls to start to see similarities with others outside of their clique.
Keep the Fun Going when Girls are Having Trouble
Prepare yourself handle to sticky situations with care by reviewing our Guide to Managing Girl Behavior. Have all the girls decide upon a semi-private space where they can go to regroup when they need a moment to calm down or just until they’re ready to rejoin the others.
While she regroups, keep the fun going for the rest of the troop and give her some space. Eventually the girl will probably want to come back to join in on the fun; after a while, she may never choose to leave again.
At the end of the troop meeting, check-in with girls who took a moment to themselves and make sure they’re doing okay or if she has anything she would like to discuss with you.
Enforce Troop Rules to Avoid Inappropriate Language or Behavior
Let the girls decide on a set of troop rules that include guidelines for appropriate behavior and language for the group as well as consequences for straying from these rules. Make sure that some of the consequences are funny to help engage the girls. You could even post the agreed-upon troop rules right next to the Girl Scout Promise and Law in your meeting space.
You can make sure all girls have a say in your troop’s rules by creating a troop agreement and having troop members sign the Girl Code of Conduct. You can even set expectations with adults by having them sign the Parent/Guardian Agreement.
Let Girls Lead to Avoid Bossiness
Talk with the girls in your troop about the differences between leadership and bossiness. Have them identify examples of leadership and teamwork that worked well with the group in the past, and discuss why they worked.
If a someone starts to take over a discussion or activity and won’t listen to input from their troop members, offer them a leadership role instead. They can learn a better way to lead that takes teamwork into account and considers the members of their troop.
See our Letting Girls Take the Lead article for more information.
Reinforce the Girl Scout Law when Bullying Occurs
If you notice bullying occurring, call together a discussion with your troop.
- Discuss how people can have different perspectives; what seems funny to one girl can be embarrassing to another.
- Point out that no one wants to be told how to do something and that there’s a difference between suggesting and demanding.
- Review the Girl Scout Promise, especially “considerate and caring”, “respect myself and others”, and “be a sister to every Girl Scout”.
- Stress the importance of upholding good behavior in troop meetings and in everyday life.
- Discuss the bullying policies that are at their schools and their experiences with them.
- Set very clear expectations and consequences for bullying behavior from the start.
Be Understanding During Conflict
Recognize that many of these behaviors are merely ways to gain attention. After all, for some, negative attention is better than no attention at all. But, if you give girls an opportunity to lead and keep them involved in the conflict resolution process, they’ll learn how to handle life’s challenges all on their own.
See Girl Scouts of the USA’s BFF: Be a Friend First anti-bullying program for more tips.
Summary of Resources
- Letting Girls Take the Lead – An article for troop leaders that outlines how to incorporate girl-led into their troop.
- Mission, Promise, and Law – An article for all volunteers that outlines the Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law, and how to use them.
- BFF: Be a Friend First – A page about an anti-bullying program on Girl Scouts of the USA’s website.
- Parent/Guardian Agreement – You can use this agreement form to set expectations with families.
- Girl Code of Conduct – You can use this agreement form to set expectations with girls.
- Creating a Troop Agreement – Use this guide facilitate discussions with girls about appropriate conduct and establish clear expectations for your troop.
- Guide to Managing Girl Behavior – This document outlines the specific steps for managing girl behaviors that go against your troop agreement and/or the Girl Code of Conduct.