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silver-shark

Positive Reinforcement

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Hi Folks.

 

We've got some young scouts out there that are having a tough time motivating other scouts in their troops, mostly because they haven't had anyone teach them any techniques of Positive Reinforcement.

 

Let's see how many examples we can give them of ways they can accomplish this.

 

YIS

 

Kris

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Hi Kris - interesting topic, but I'm not *quite* sure what you're getting at - can you start us off with an example?

Anne in Mpls

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Hi Anne

 

There are a lot of troops out there that are more interested in punishing scouts for bad or questionable behavior, than they are about trying to find positive ways of motivating people into good behavioral situations. This is called Negative Reinforcement.

 

What these boy leaders need is a way or ways of introducing Positive Reinforcement into their programs.

 

Some examples of this Positive Reinforcement would include using the Coaching or Supportive Styles of Leadership that Bob and others wrote about a while back.

 

Others would be through Teamwork Exercises or competitions.

 

Another would be to immediately praise or reward good behavior publicly, possibly with a long term cumulative goal attached to it.

 

How are you other troops accomplishing this?(This message has been edited by silver-shark)

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Ownership. We give the SPL ownership of the Troop and the PL ownership of his Patrol. This allows each to make their own decisions & learn from their mistakes. I'm not sure if this is positive reinforcement, though.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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This is kind of like asking for suggestions of what to do on vacation, the ideas can be endless.

 

Attitude is everything. Train them trust them let them lead, is how Baden-Powell described the charge he left to scoutleaders.

 

How you show that trust is a big part of successful leadership. I have found over the years that what makes the biggest diference to the scouts is personal contact. Except for Scoutmaster minutes I very rarely talk to large groups of scouts. Personl converstaions to individuals or patrols will accomplish far more. Small things said to individuals will get great results.

 

Just comments like "I like how you did that", "that was excellent, Please show Tom how you did that", "You look so sharp in a full uniform, I hope you will wear it more often", "I'm really impressed by the job you are doing, I like how you talk with the patrol reather than telling them what to do", "It's great they way you guys cooperate, you get so much more done that way." "it's a real pleasure getting to work with you, you have a real knack for this this skill."

 

I think you'll find as a scout grows in confidence they work harder at the skill or task. partly because they feel better about the work and partly because they want to hear additional positive comments from an adult.

 

The best thing is that as the scouts get used to being treated this way they begin to treat each other this way. I recently heard one of the patrol leaders iin my sons troop say to two scouts, "Rob I'd like you and Tony to do the supper dishes this weekend Tony is new and needs to understand how to do the dishes right so that no one gets sick and I've never seen you do a bad job. I really appreciate it." How many times have you heard scouts talk like that to each other? Rob's Answer was even better, "why don't I wash the dishes at dinner with him helping and then have him do breakfast and I can check his work."

 

That kind of attitude and cooperation comes from the way the scouts are treated by the leaders.

 

We also have used door prizes at troop meetings. If you bring your handbook you put you rname in the drawing, if you wore your complete uniform you can put your name in again, if you remembered your permission slip you can put it in again, if you bring iin a completed blue card you can put in in again. Then at the end of the meeting we will draw a name and give a mug or collectors patch, a water bottle or cnaping tool.

 

The scouts really enjoy it, and it promotes a number of positive behaviors.

 

Hope this helps,

Bob White

 

 

 

 

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Positive reinforcement encourages and helps individuals along to the next level of behavioral development. Also, with further development of followers, leaders will find that they can change their style of leadership; moving from directing to coaching, coaching to supporting, and ultimately from supporting to delegating.

 

Some pointers for positive reinforcement:

 

- Praise immediately. Praise when the positive behavior is observed.

 

- Be specific. Specifics show you really were paying attention. Tell them exactly what is was they did well.

 

- Don't add more work. We often fall into this trap - you did a great job so I think I'll pile on more work. We have a tendency to keep piling more work on top of competent people - so much so that we eventually burn them out.

 

- Forget the "but's". You did a good job, BUT next time ...

 

- Encourage more of the same behavior.

 

Not examples, but a few simple tips that are easy to remember.

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Great thoughts guys. Keep 'em comin'!

 

"- Don't add more work. We often fall into this trap - you did a great job so I think I'll pile on more work. We have a tendency to keep piling more work on top of competent people - so much so that we eventually burn them out."

 

We've got a couple of SPLs out there in the forum that I think are going through this right now.

 

I've fallen into this "keep piling" trap myself. The other problem with this is that we enable less competent scouts to remain that way.

 

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Sometimes the most positiver re-enforcement is exemplified by leaving. I mean physically leaving, but it has to be set up in advance.

 

Two examples:

 

I was recently at a Junior Leader Training conference. I had limited time, but unlimited trust in the youth staff (I was there as the Assistant Scout Executive, not staff advisor.)

 

The youth staff was just about to put on a session where they answered any scouting question posed during the week by the participants. The SPL asked me to stick around in case they got into trouble or "water too deep."

 

I made a deal with the SPL -- I'll stick around for the first half hour and if you're in any trouble, or I have any doubt that you can answer anything asked of you, I'll stick around. I won't answer unless you ask me to.

 

If you see me leave, that means I have every bit of faith that you can answer anything they throw at you.

 

At minute 32, I waived to the SPL, got in my car and left. He smiled and waived back.

 

In the other example, I dealt with an adult volunteer. I was the advisor to the council's Webelos Resident Camp and the volunteer was the director. In previous years, the Scout Executive demanded that the staff advisor remain on the property full time. We just got a new Scout Executive and he didn't see it that way. He told me I should remain for the comfort of the volunteer director. If the volunteer wanted me there, I was to remain. I was, of course, available 24 hours a day by phone and cell phone.

 

I told the director that I trusted him completely with the program and that if he needed me or wanted me he should call, but that if he didn't feel he needed me on site, I would be just as happy to be home.

 

He thanked me and said, "I'll see you Thursday when you pick up the cash."

 

We were both happy.

 

The next year, my boss eneded up being the staff advisor and stayed on site the entire week. He never got over the "old school" way of thinking. By Wednesday, the director looked at him and said, "Don't you trust me? Get out of my camp!"

 

I'm sure there was more to that relationship than my absence, but the point is I'm agreeing with Bob White . . . train them and trust them. Be available to help, but don't be the first recourse for assistance.

 

DS

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Some really neat stuff here.

Just love the "No But."

Not so sure about just leaving. There are many who are just happy to see the back of me!!!

I do think that people know when you care and know when you mean what you say. So a Thank You or a Well Done can mean a lot.

I think that having everyone share information about success is very important.

Eamonn

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A couple concepts come to mind:

 

Scaffolding - this is a term from the child development field to describe behaviors of parents training their children - young toddler wants to build a tower of blocks - parent steadies the tower as necessary so the kiddo can do the part he is capable of doing and most enjoys. As proficiency develops, parent provides less and less "support", perhaps moving physically away too, giving words of encouragment where once it was a physical support.

progression - breaking tasks down into manageable portions and simpler tasks preceding more difficult ones. With my Brownies, I first teach them how to safely light a match, then a candle (these generally immediately follow each other - "good job with the match - I like how you blew it out when it was burning close to your fingers instead of getting scared and dropping it - let's try lighting the candle now") and then later applying these smaller skills to building and lighting and tending a fire (again, lots of skills in there to be broken down managably - kinds of firewood, types of fires, wind direction...) breaking it down builds competence - obviously match this to the maturity of the person! I work with Brownies - the steps would be sped up a bit for older ones of course!

To see these as positive techniques, contrast them with the "sink or swim" approach, or the "you're not old enough to do the whole thing, so I won't let you do any of it" aka the "all or nothing" approach.

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While the techniques you speak of are no doubt well and good, there are always times that require punishment...

 

On the brighter side, there are many ways to teach the Scouts in your troop good leadership and descision-making skills. Scout-leading-Scout is always so much better than Leader-leading-Scout. In my opinion, the Scouts should run the troop, and the leaders serve as guides and advisors. The Order of the Arrow organization, which I am so fond of, is also a good way to teach leadership and good virtues and qualities that will stick for the rest of their lives.

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eamonn brings up a good point. Say please and thank-you! It usually makes an unpleasant task a little more bearable. We stress this in our Troop & the adults in our Troop always use please & thank-you.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Perhaps it's just semantics, but 'punishment' should be left for Mams & Dads to dole out as they see fit. 'Discipline' is something that we may have to deal with in Scouting from time to time when necessary.

 

I believe there is a difference. In Scouting we do not think in terms of 'punishment' for that is beyond our realm and station. We do, however, think in terms of discipline, for without it, it is not hard to see Camp Runamok coming to visit when groups of young men and boys get together.

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"In Scouting we do not think in terms of 'punishment' for that is beyond our realm and station. We do, however, think in terms of discipline,..."

 

In my mind, it's not even discipline... it's consequences. Maybe that's because I see discipline as a "shaking finger in the face" kind of thing. There are times when Scouts need consequences. One instance comes immediately to my mind. On a campout in which Webelos II's were invited (prospective Boy Scouts!), an older Scout actually punched a Webelos Scout in the stomach during the closing ceremony. That Scout was called before the Committee and they "suspended" his membership in the Troop for three months. He was not allowed to come to meetings, go on campouts or count that time toward his next rank advancement. After the three months were up, he came before the Committee again to discuss his future with the Troop. They invited him to return to the Troop. He did, and he made Eagle. He never had an issue like that again. Maybe some of you would consider that a punishment. I'm not sure the Scout did. I don't think he would have come back if he felt it was just punishment. I think he felt it was a fair consequence. And, yes, the boy who got punched DID join the Troop (parents had confidence in the Troop Committee because they were dealing appropriately with the incident) and that boy went on and became an Eagle.

 

As for using the word "but"... don't use it! "But" is an eraser word. Everything that came before is erased. "You really did a great job building that fire. I like how you used plenty of dry tinder and only needed one match! BUT, next time, build it somewhere else." In a boy's head, he only hears, "Next time do it better." Separate your praise and your criticism. That way, they both get heard.

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