Scouting Forums

Behavior in Lions

At our Committee meeting last night our Tiger leader said that the scouts behavior was awful and that much did not get completed. We have 9 Lions in our den and I am concerned about behavior and keeping their attention.

The Lion Den Guide suggests the good conduct candle, but im not sure we want to do this for the Lions.

What other methods have you found successful for maintaining order in your dens, especially for younger scouts.

Honestly, they’re little. They have about a 5 minute attention span. And they really don’t know why there here. My Lion is constantly asking why we don’t bring our tent to den meetings because all she wants to do is camp and they aren’t camping at the meetings. My best advice is keep the meeting moving. Have crayons and color sheets out when they get there so they have something to sit down and start doing. Then once everyone is there, start with a game or something active to get energy out. If there’s something required where they have to sit and listen, make sure they have a snack. Above all else, don’t have down time! Chaos will happen immediately. The main goal for Lions, in my personal opinion, is for them to associate Scouting with fun. It needs to be 5 year old level length and activity while working on the requirements. I know there are activities that are required that don’t fit that description, don’t be afraid to make those activities homework! Good luck!


That’s the perfect example of how they think. Talking about summer camp in September is pointless. Tell them what they’ve doing at the next meeting.

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The candle works. Get a small one like a teal light or even a birthday cake stick candle. When it burns out the get something. Let them choose what. My group decided to have a trip to the playground. One of my scouts got up on the table. I had our code of conduct right there that they made. I pointed to the rule he was breaking and said “Am I going to have to blow out the candle?” It stopped instantly. We had the best behaved den. Remind them to Do Your Best. Make sure you aren’t expecting them to sit and listen for an hour. We talked about stuff for 5-10 mins, went to the hall to play a game, we came back and talked, then colored. I basically followed what the DLE told me to do and it was brilliant.

Actually, we’ve had tent set-up be an activity at meetings (both when my son was a Webelos and since he’s bridged into the troop). It was a hit with the scouts.

I would figure out an excuse to bring the tents in and let them practice setting them up in teams with their adult partners. Focus on skill not speed, or they’ll happily tear your tents…even at the troop level. :wink:

You can talk about all the things that you should only do outside of tents (cooking, having campfires, eating) and all the things you can do inside tents (reading, playing sit-down games, and the never-popular sleeping…). If you’re someplace you can turn out the lights, get them inside the tents in groups of kids and have them make shadow puppets on the walls…


EVERYONE: I have my fifth pinewood derby coming up as a CM. It took me four years to learn this simple truth. I believed the opposite for many years, but I can say without any uncertainty that what I am about to give you is an axiom:

Sometimes, “Go outside and play for an hour” is a very successful Cub Scout meeting.

  1. They have fun
  2. They learn to interact together as a unit
  3. They burn energy and you give them back to their parents hot, sweaty, and tired
  4. Physical activity is good for their health (Presidential Active Lifestyle Award)
  5. They want to do it and can do it for an extended period of time
  6. You as the leader can observe their behavior and learn way more about them than you could ever hope to learn while actively teaching.
  7. Several elective adventures are “go play” adventures anyway
  8. Play outside = a requirement for outdoor activity

It’s plain and simple–if the Cub Scouts aren’t having fun, then you’re doing it wrong. Maybe dumping too much talk time on them (some can handle a lot, some can handle only 2-3 minutes). What are some ideas?

  • Bring a tent and set it up inside. Play.
  • Get an MRE and “cook it” on the tabletop at the meeting. Everyone taste. (suggest OMEALS brand
  • Build a birdhouse from a kit (use the “glue-a-birdhouse” kits to avoid tools)
  • Do the “go play” adventures (LION: Fun on the Run, On Your Mark, etc.)
  • Have an “indoor game meeting” (learn sportsmanship)
  • Paper Airplane races

Something else to make sure: NO DROP OFFS! If there are scouts with behavior problems, what are their parents doing about it? If the scout doesn’t have at least one parent/trusted adult there, they shouldn’t be at the meeting.


Absolutely solid advice from @PaulMcDonald.

My only addition is that, for Lions, we had some success with implementing a Ker-Plunk game as a good behavior reward.

Basically if a kid does something awesome, or at the end of the meeting, everyone that did well gets to pull a stick. Once they have pulled enough sticks to get the marbles to drop, they get rewarded with some kind of good time.

It helps keep them on track as a reminder to be good.

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Kerplunk isn’t a bad idea. I will need to remember that one

Lions and Tigers require an adult partner at the meeting - what are they doing? The parent/guardian should be intervening when their child is misbehaving.
That said - THEY ARE 5-6 years old! They have already sat in school for several hours. Expecting them to sit and listen for very long is unrealistic. And it makes scouting “not fun.” No one joins scouting to sit in a meeting and listen to concepts. They want action and friendship.

We do a “what’s wrong with this campsite” set up they they like to figure out what was done wrong (like putting a pretend fire inside the tent).

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That’s awesome! I do things like that when I do Leave No Trace training sessions with units/OA.

I like running through the Impact Monster skit with youth. I think it’s a great way to get them to have a visceral feel for what could run afoul of the Leave No Trace principles and Outdoor Code. Getting them to recommend changes to the Impact Monster’s “campsite” and behaviors usually gets them move involved than just laughing at how over-the-top the Impact Monster is.

For those minutes when you need their attention, use some of the techniques that teachers use. The scouts “signs up” tool is kind of too passive for young kids. Use “1,2,3, eyes on me!”, “criss, cross applesauce!”, or the clapping game. Sometimes separating a couple of “good buddies” on opposite sides of the room can help. No matter how great the activity is, if they are climbing the walls it’s hard to engage them. Stuffed animals are also great attention grabbers at those ages. Good luck!

So, I would handle Lions very much like I handled my den when they were Tigers. I introduced a topic, then pushed the scouts to spend time with their adult partner doing the evening activity. That was followed by a game and then it was time to send them home. Most of my effort was in the between meetings part.

Another big help is to find any way you can to volunteer at the school for a day working with that age. This does a couple things. First, you learn the vocabulary the teacher uses. Things like please put a bubble in your mouth and sit on your pockets. Next, you can potentially pick up what a teacher does with specific individuals. Finally, you are the really cool adult that hangs with the scouts for a day at school.

I love working with Lions and Tigers but I always have an “action activity” in case their attention span goes South. Action activities can include a blown up balloon (take 5 minute teamwork break to keep it in the air); “Blob tag” (one kid is ‘it.’ Once he tags someone, they hold hands and become part of the blob until they are one big kid blob that has to make a lap around the gym or park without losing anyone -teamwork!); I also have a “Mystery Suitcase,” - it’s an old vintage hard side with big latches from a Thrift store. I put the evening’s activity in it and I introduce the activity by peeking in the suitcase and pulling things out (props, activity pages etc). The key to keeping this exciting and mysterious is never actually letting them look inside the suitcase. You can hide snacks in it or a reward to pull out at the end. It never gets old!


I was a Lion Den Leader last year and getting outside and staying active was the key to success for nearly every meeting, and if you have craft stuff put that near the end when the snacks are being prepared by a Mom, then you will have their undivided attention.

My Tigers are a high energy bunch as well. I use a ‘Paw-tastic Behavior’ jar and reward colorful pom poms throughout the meeting to scouts who are following the rules. If I have to warn and warn, out comes a puff! When the jar is full, they will get a special treat or reward. So far, it seems to really be working well.

I suggest 2-3 active moving games and when you do activities try to break them up into stations. Reducing the numbers helps listening as do those games to get the wiggles out. I only ran 45 min meetings for at least the 1st 3/4 of Lions. It was perfect for their attention spans. Also every den is different. We have dens that are very quiet and “behave” and others that are “crazy”. I think part of it is just what you’re used to in your own experience. I regularly deal with soccer teams so my level of “crazy” is much higher than others.

Paul McDonald makes a very valid point: [quote=“PaulMcDonald, post:6, topic:135823”]
Something else to make sure: NO DROP OFFS! If there are scouts with behavior problems, what are their parents doing about it? If the scout doesn’t have at least one parent/trusted adult there, they shouldn’t be at the meeting.
Lions are supposed to be a parent/child team. This can help keep the Lion focused. There are also a lot of good ideas about keeping things active. And I would reduce the average attention span to 2-3 minutes…:flushed:

Thanks for all of the suggestions. We had our first Den meeting and it went off without an issue. The kids were well behaved and listened. Thanks again for your input

I’ve ran the Lion Den for the last 2 years and the best suggestion I can give it to keep it short. For the Lion Den, they only meet for 30 minutes every week. We start off with the Scout Salute, Scout Sign and Scout Motto. From there we cover the achievement for that week. We end the night by practicing the Buddy System- let them go outside, run around, I yell “Buddy Check” and they find their buddies. After about 5 minutes, we go back into the classroom and go over what we learned that week. The Lions pay attention, they understand why they are there and they get to apply it. I never have snacks or need to have a reward system for them. They also understand why it’s important to sit quietly at the awards meetings because they know the other Scouts have also worked hard to earn their achievements.