Behavior Management Short Activity: Shared Triggers

Staff are there to keep the youth in their care safe—both emotionally and physically. Behavior management plays an important part in fulfilling that role. By equipping staff with effective behavior management strategies, we can make sure youth feel welcomed, accepted and safe in their programs.

There are five key strategies for effective behavior management:

  1. Know Yourself: You first have to know your own triggers, and how you plan to respond to these triggers
  2. Know Your Kids: You have to know what makes each child unique and what causes them to behave the way that they do
  3. Prepare: Be proactive by building relationships, setting clear expectations and creating structure within the environment
  4. Redirect: Guide negative behavior towards more positive behavior in order to deescalate a situation
  5. Respond: Positively intervene to correct unsafe or emotionally-charged behavior by being empathetic, assertive and focusing on what you want

In this short activity, we will focus on the first strategy of knowing yourself. By making sure your staff understands and knows how to build a strong foundation, you will hopefully experience fewer instances where you will need to redirect and respond to inappropriate behaviors.

Use this short activity at your next staff meeting to educate or refresh your staff on this key foundational behavior management strategy. Please feel free to download the activity above and print it off.

Shared Triggers

Time: 10+ minutes

Materials needed:
  • Index cards
  • Pens/pencils
Internal talking points:
  • Introduction to Behavior Management
    • Behavior management starts on day one and continues each day youth are in your care
    • Behavior management is a positive factor of child development and doesn’t only focus on discipline and negative consequences
  • The Foundation
    • There are two foundation strategies for behavior management: know yourself and know your kids
    • In this activity, we are going to focus on knowing yourself
    • Spending the majority of time on the foundation elements will hopefully lead you not to have to redirect or respond to inappropriate behaviors as much
  • Know Yourself
    • In order to bring your best self to work every day, it is important that you know yourself
    • Identifying your triggers—what makes you angry or frustrated—is critical when working with youth. Some examples may be: screaming, whining, talking back, etc.
    • Once you have identified your triggers, it is then important that you determine how you plan for them, regain your composure and manage your emotions so that you are best set up for success to supervise your youth
  1. Have your staff sit in a circle and hand each of them a blank index card and a pen/pencil
  2. Go through the talking points above with your staff to make sure they understand the importance of knowing yourself when working with youth
  3. Give your staff one minute to think about what their top two triggers are when working with youth
  4. Ask each participant to write down one trigger on the back, and another on the front of their index card
  5. Once everyone is done, request that participants pass the card clockwise around the circle. Each time a staff member receives a card, they should read the back and front and place a check mark on the side of the card if they also share that trigger.
  6. When the staff members have received their original index card back, collect all of the cards
  7. Select 2-3 triggers that have the most check marks and read them aloud to the group
  8. Reinforce with staff that through this activity, they hopefully found that they are not alone in sharing similar triggers with their team members
  9. Use the rest of your time as a large group to brainstorm and identify strategies that staff can use in their everyday work to compose themselves when they experience the selected triggers

Additional Resource: Behavior Management Training
In our Behavior Management Training on The Redwoods Institute, you’ll hear from a Camp Specialist, Club Director and an Elementary School Teacher who will share practical tips and strategies that can be adapted and implemented at any youth-serving community organization. The training’s accompanying facilitator guide also includes additional short activities for your staff.
* Please note that The Redwoods Institute is only available to our insurance customers.