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Keeping Your Cool When Things Get Hot

Your first few troop/group meetings are behind you and you're starting to notice some behaviors like bickering and bossiness. How do you handle challenging behaviors while staying cool? No matter what age you're working with, here are five cool solutions to five hot challenges.

Hot Challenge #1: Cliques
Cool Solution: Have the girls mix it up—after all, they don't listen to the same song over and over again. Why have the same partner over and over again? Match girls by their favorite ways to celebrate their birthdays, their zodiac signs, or their favorite movies—great ways for the girls to start to see the similarities with others outside their cliques.

Hot Challenge #2: The Sensitive Girl
Cool Solution:
Stopping everything because Sandra has burst into tears or Maria is personalizing everything Cassandra says isn't fun for anyone. Instead, have the girls decide upon a private space where they can go to regroup until they are ready to rejoin the others. Meanwhile, keep the fun going for the rest of the group. Eventually the sensitive girl probably will want to join in the fun. After a while she may choose never to leave it. At the end of the troop or group meeting, check in with the girl and make sure she is okay.

Hot Challenge #3: Inappropriate Language
Cool Solution:
Let the girls decide on appropriate behaviors, consequences, and language for the group. Make sure that some of the consequences are funny—you don't want to turn into their parent. Post the agreed upon guidelines right next to the Girl Scout Promise and Law. Teach the girls how to monitor their own behavior and reinforce the rules they set.

Hot Challenge #4: Bossy Girl
Cool Solution:
No one has fun when one girl is the boss. Talk with the girls about the differences between leadership/teamwork and bossiness. Have them identify examples of leadership/teamwork that work with the group. When girls start getting bossy, offer one of them leadership/teamwork roles instead so they can learn a better way to lead.

Hot Challenge #5: Bullying
Cool Solution:
Discuss with the girls how people can have different perspectives—what seems funny to one girl can be embarrassing to another. And point out that no one likes to be told how to do something—that there's a difference between suggesting and demanding. Got bigger bullies than this? Look into bringing in an expert of conflict resolution from the community or the girls' school.

Recognize that many of these behaviors are ways to gain attention—after all, negative attention is better than no attention at all! But, if you give girls an opportunity to lead and shine, and keep them involved in the conflict resolution process, they'll learn how to handle life's challenges on their own.