Kids, Teens, and Behaviors that Sometimes Come with Them

With the start of summer, we are experiencing higher foot traffic of kids and teens.  Sometimes they need to be reminded of behavioral rules and to be redirected or flat asked to leave.

Here are the two policies that most often need your reinforcement:

Here are some scenarios you may encounter along with examples of how you might handle each.

Scenario 1:  A child that is obviously under 8 years old is alone in the Family Zone.  He is climbing the rocks near the lighthouse and jumping down to the floor repeated.  Potential Response:  Hi.  You look like a great rock climber.  What’s your name?  (Josiah.) Nice to meet you, Josiah.  Are you here with a grown up?  (Yes, my camp counselors.)  Can you take me to see one of them?  (To the counselor) Hi.  Josiah tells me that he is here with you today.  Thanks for bringing the kids to the library.  Just a bit ago he was climbing the rocks over there.  Those are for decoration and not climbing.  He will need to stay down from there, so he does not get hurt. By the way, kids under the age of 8 need to be supervised during your visit, so he will need to stay within arm’s length of you.

Scenario 2:  A group of kids comes to the Rainforest Adventure.  The oldest one tells the younger ones to come find her when they are done.  Potential Response:  Hey, before you go, can you tell me how old each of you are?  (The ages are 13, 8, 6.)  Are you here together today?  (Yes, we are cousins.) I am afraid that you will have to go through the exhibit with your cousin.  Kids under the age of 8 must be with someone who is at least 12.

Scenario 3: Kids are playing hide and seek in the East Wing. Only one of them looks old enough to be here unattended. Potential Response: I see you’re playing a game of some kind that looks like hide-and-seek or tag. You cannot play running games inside the library. You could get hurt or you could hurt someone else by doing that. Are you here with a grown-up today? (No.) How old are each of you? (9 and 7.) To the 9-year-old:  Well, you are old enough to be here on your own so long as you can follow the rules. Can you do that? To the 7-year-old: I’m afraid you’re not old enough to be here without someone who’s at least 12 to be in charge of you. Are you together? (Yes.) We will need to get a hold of someone who lives with you to see what to do. Let’s find a phone and make a call.

Scenario 4: A group of 6-7 teens are roaming through the building loudly discussing a party they were at the previous night. Their language is vivid and riddled with disparaging comments. Occasionally they shout out across the room to someone who is several feet ahead.  Potential Response: Hi. I need to talk with you all for a moment. You cannot walk through the building talking this loudly especially with some of the language you are choosing. If you want to talk about this, you will need to use conversational voices, like the one I am using with you now. You also need to find a place to be. I suggest the Courtyard. If you continue to roam through the building and to be loud then you will be asked to leave. There will not be another warning.

Scenario 5: Two 8-year-old friends are giving each other knuckle noogies, shoving each other around, and intermittently cussing up a storm while playing computer games.  Potential Response: You may not know this but roughhousing and cussing are not allowed at the library. I am afraid that you will need to leave for the rest of the day as a consequence. You’re welcome to come back tomorrow if you lose the language and keep your hands to yourself.

If we all address these types of issues when they arise, then the behaviors are more likely to be extinguished altogether.  Enforcing policy sets boundaries and boundaries are good for kids.  It also helps us to preserve a safe and welcoming atmosphere for everyone.

Thanks for your help managing problem behaviors.

4 thoughts on “Kids, Teens, and Behaviors that Sometimes Come with Them

  1. Meredith Snepp on said:

    THANK YOU for this. This gives me a clearer picture of what lines exist and what the appropriate staff responses are. I have (in the past) done the 3 strikes rule but it seems to not be super effective. I appreciate knowing what the boundaries are!

  2. Jayme Lyons on said:

    For anybody wanting some tools for dealing with difficult people young and old I suggest the Guide to Homelessness online training or any of those by Ryan Dowd. His experience with people under stress and with difficulty controlling impulses transfers well to young people and those with emotional problems not just the homeless. He explains the science behind his methods and gives easy to remember steps for figuring out when and how to intervene.

  3. Speaking loudly enough to be heard by your friend 3 computers away counts as “yelling” as far as I’m concerned.

    If “no running” were explicitly listed under “disruptive or disorderly behavior”, that would go a long way towards helping with kids playing hide and seek. However, for now, I’ll just use my discretion, since it qualifies as “roughhousing”, and the policy states that “This includes but is not limited to…”.

    • LeAnn Brungardt on said:

      Our conduct policy includes the broad categories of being respectful or others, being respectful of library property, and being safe so that we all have the latitude we need to deal with the multitude of unique scenarios that will arise. It is for that reason that I do not foresee a list of inappropriate behaviors. Staff need to use their good judgement to determine the best coarse of action given the circumstances that arise. It looks like you do that from this comment. Management and Security are here as support. To add to the “yelling” scenario above, I often give kids a brief explanation of rules. It helps me develop my rationale to state the policy infraction out loud, it gives kids often times awareness of how their behavior may affect others, and sometimes it softens the interaction by putting the focus more on the behavior and less on the person. So I might say, “I can hear you are really excited about the game you are playing as your voices are getting louder and louder. I need you to keep it down so that the other people in this area are not disrupted. If you can not keep your voice conversational like I am doing with you right now, then you will be asked to leave for the day. I need your cooperation if you want to continue to game.”