Understanding Behaviour

Module D


The aim of this module is to give you, as a Young Leader, a basic understanding of the different behaviours that young people can display and some possible causes. By the end, you should be able to recognise and propose possible solutions for different behaviours.

By the end of this module, you will have an understanding of:

  • different types of behaviour
  • talking about the causes and triggers that can lead to different types of behaviour
  • a number of tools or methods that could be used to manage behaviour
  • how you, as a Young Leader, can assist with managing behaviour in the section
  • where you can get further assistance, and when to involve adults

Approaching behaviour

Every young person is an individual and all young people should be treated equally. They can display a range of behaviours that can be both positive and negative. A sudden or noticeable change in behaviour may be due to a variety of underlying causes of which you might not be aware.

We should all focus on recognising and rewarding positive behaviour, and should never label a young person or adult.

When speaking about behaviour in the section, we should focus on the behaviour itself, rather than on the young person in question. For example, instead of saying that young person is being ‘naughty’, they could talk to the young person about their behaviour, clearly explaining why it is not appropriate. Responding to challenging behaviour can be difficult for all leaders at times.

Activity One

Think about how you feel and behave in different scenarios by answering these questions.

  • How do you feel when you are hungry?
  • What brings out the best in you?
  • How do you feel if you are having a bad day?
  • Is there anything that helps you function a little better when you are having a bad day?
  • How do you feel when you are tired?
  • How do you feel when you don’t understand something?
  • What and who influences your mood?
  • How do you feel when you are having a really good day?

Remember, we all have good and bad days. We are all affected differently by different things, and have our own sensitivities and triggers. However, there are some commonalities most of us share.

We can improve how things are going by acknowledging why we feel the way we do. The same is true of our Scouts.

Reasons for Behaviour

There is always a reason behind challenging behaviour. Examples could include: boredom, over-excitement, enthusiasm, a misunderstanding about what is appropriate behaviour, a misunderstanding understanding the rules, experiences outside of Scouting, experiencing a bad mental health day, family circumstances and the environment (e.g. noisy, overwhelming, unfamiliar).

Challenging behaviour is often misjudged as ‘attention seeking’. It’s natural to want and need attention from others, but usually this is sought in a positive way. It’s important to think about why a young person might be seeking attention. Are they receiving enough positive attention from adults? Is there something important they are struggling to communicate to you? Do they need support with developing friendships in the section?

Activity Two

Write a list of 5 challenging behaviours you could encounter in your section. There are a wide range of these – from reluctance to join in activities to making rude comments to leaders.

Once you have written your list, think about the causes behind each one and write it down next to your list.

  • If someone is experiencing boredom, what can we do to ensure the programme is inclusive and interesting? How can we make sure everyone understands?
  • If someone is struggling to understand something, can we present the information in a different way? Can we have extra people on board to support? Can we check for any differences in how young people in the section learn, and adapt our leadership style to suit them?
  • If someone is over-excited, can we set clear boundaries before the activity begins? Can we make sure we have a code of conduct in place?

Try to use positive language when talking to a Scout showing challenging behaviour – encourage them to improve their behaviour and tell them how it will help them.

Managing behaviour

One way we can create a positive environment in our section is to create a Code of Conduct in partnership with the Scouts. A Code of Conduct should apply to everyone in the section – adults and young people. Try to keep the language positive so rather than a list of ‘No’s’ we should aim for our desired behaviours such as showing respect and being friendly to each other.

You should consider how the leadership team should respond if a young person is having a bad day or when the code of conduct is broken.

Activity Three


Watch this video and then create a code of conduct for our Young Leaders Unit.

For more information about challenging behaviour take a look at this page on the Scout website.

If you ever feel out of your depth when dealing with behaviour then seek the help of an adult leader. As a young leader, you should never be left to deal with challenging behaviour on your own.


So hopefully you are now more knowledgeable about challenging behaviour and how to deal with it. Review the objectives above and see if you have covered all the objectives.

You can upload the evidence for this module to OSM – we’ll review what you have done and update your YL training.