As with any group of people with different personalities, needs, and wants, disagreements will inevitably arise within your troop. As their troop leader, you’ll play a big part in guiding them through conflict resolution. Here’s some common challenges and solutions you may navigate.
Mix Up Small Groups
It’s always a good idea to randomly assign partners and groups when Girl Scouts are working on projects, whether you have cliques or not. This helps Girl Scouts deepen relationships with new people and work alongside a variety of personalities. You can divide them by counting off numbers, drawing straws, or by their birthdays, zodiac signs, or their favorite foods.
Create a Calm Space
When conflict arises, it can be hard to stay calm and think logically! As a troop, 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. You may also consider calming activities to promote grounding and breathing.
At the end of the troop meeting, check-in with anyone who took a moment to themselves and give them space and opportunity to share with you.
Enforce Troop Rules
Create a troop agreement and/or have everyone sign the Girl Code of Conduct. Together, your troop can decide on a set of rules that include guidelines for appropriate behavior and language for the group as well as consequences for straying from these rules. You could even post the agreed-upon troop rules in your meeting space and refer back to them as needed.
Don’t forget that you can also set expectations with adults volunteers and caregivers by having them sign the Parent/Guardian Agreement.
Practice Girl Scout-led
Talk with your troop about what good leadership means and looks like, especially what works within the troop space. If 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.
Reinforce the Girl Scout Law
If you notice bullying or other conflict occurring, call together a discussion with your troop.
- Discuss how people can have different perspectives; what seems funny to one person can be embarrassing or hurtful 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 your troop members 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.