This is so hard because each child, especially with this need, is a unique equation of motivating factors.  The most important thing you can do is set boundaries and stick to them. A behaviorist once said, "each time you stick to the boundaries, you get one point. Each time the child crosses the boundaries or breaks a rule without consequence, you lose 10 points, because that's how many times you'll have to work with him/her to get them back to where they are right now."  It seems harsh, especially in my free flowing, "each situation as it's own circumstance" logic, but for kids who need it, that can be pivotal to their success in a group.  So whatever plan you set up, keep it. I have worked with kids who need extra supervision, and you make your job- and theirs!- so much easier when you help them understand the rules with consistently. 
  It's conventional wisdom to create a "team meeting rule chart" outlining expected behaviors adn doling out punsihments, but I have experienced through different youth organization that creating motivations for positive behaviors works even better. When kids think (or know) they only get attention for negative behaviors, that's their go to appointment. When they can get "caught" being good, you can have difficult personalities striving to be seen doing great things. This is a camp technique, but we give tickets (like country fair stubs), and they are worth stuff (20 tickets for an awesome pencil) and they can be used to raffle with- win pizza at the competition or get to take home one of the mission models.   At the end of each meeting, have a "shout out" where at least two team members show appreciation for a bit of work or progress made at the meeting.   Boys are more likely adapt behaviors in order to reach than goal, than they are to avoid punishment.   If you can give them an achievable goal, they might just turn around and go for it.
  Besides these, creating a contact with that team member and his parents seems like a good individual step.
It was nice of you to let him on the team again. I'm sure he'll grow in ways far greater than just understanding STEM.

On Mon, Aug 27, 2012 at 12:09 PM, John Barrett <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

How do you deal with a team member who thrives on negative attention?  I'm an engineer and have always had great respect for teachers.  After my first season of FLL a few years ago, I decided that I could never be a teacher.  3 hours each weekend took it all out of me.  I couldn't imagine working in an environment like that full time!  And for the most part, my teams have had really good kids who listen and like to learn.  Again this year, I have a good set of kids.  One of them, though, likes to push the boundaries of acceptable behavior just a little too far and seems to thrive on the attention it brings him.  He struggles with anger management, as well.

I coached him last year and was hesitant to including him on the team this year.  I did work with him individually last year and I could see him grow throughout the season.  While this is a Good Thing, it also took time and energy away from the rest of the team (which in my mind, is not fair to everyone else).

I have talked with him and his parents about the upcoming season.  We've discussed specific incidents from last year and expectations for this year.  While this is a good start, I know that a 30 minute conversation is not going change who he is.  And I'm not looking forward to being a coach who continually watching out and correcting behavioral issues and refereeing interactions.  

So what strategies do other coaches employ to deal with disruptive team members like this?  Any and all ideas are appreciated.




John J. Barrett
Industrial Medium Software, Inc.
1616 Anderson Road
McLean, VA 22102

(c) 703-231-5094
(p) 703-286-0818
(f) 703-286-0888

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