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Weekly Discussion: Big(ish) fish. Small pond.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Complaining that they've done it before. Saying its "too babyish". Turning up late and "forgetting" standard parts of unit life. Talking over leaders or wanting to question everything. Its not your fault- she's just grown out of being in that section before she can join the next section.

Most girls move through the unit without many problems, but occasionally there is a girl or two who grow out of the unit before either they are old enough for the next section, or the next unit has a space. This can lead to a negative environment if left alone.

What are your tips and stories for:
  • Handling challenging behaviour from girls who are ready to move on but can't for whatever reason (back chat, lack of willingness to cooperate/join in, disregarding unit ethos, frustration from being the last in a friend group to move on)
  • Preventing a negative environment from developing (younger girls copying behaviour, younger girls feeling intimidated, volunteers dreading each meeting for what it might bring)
  • Ideas for each section on small jobs, tasks or roles ideal for older girls that aren't being a sixer/PL
And: Do you feel that it is ever fair/ appropriate to suggest that a girl has a term or so out before the next section- or will it just lead to them leaving Guiding?


Beginner (10+ posts)
We sometimes use the unofficial term "Senior Rainbow" for girls who are much older or more mature than the others - e.g. last of a year group to move up to Brownies and all the other girls are at least a year younger.

Nothing set in stone but we try to give them little tasks like handing out things, being team leader for games, being head of the queue when lining up and making friends with new/younger girls.

It often helps them feel a bit important and stop them acting up. If they do, just saying something like "Oh dear, that's not the way I would expect a Senior Rainbow to behave" can help (most of the time!)


If a girl has outgrown her section, and is old enough for the next section - then holding onto her (whether 'until there is a space' or 'until after the forthcoming special event') isn't just bad for her. It's also bad for the rest of the unit. It is far better all round for such a girl to leave, even if there will be a gap before she joins the next section.

Most girls should be starting to show signs of being ready to move on as they are just approaching 7/10/14 - so it's a positive sign for you if those signs are starting to appear, not a negative one. The girls who move onto the next section confidently, shortly after being old enough to, are our success stories - they aren't the girls a unit 'loses'.

If a girl is short of being old enough to move on, yet has outgrown - then it is up to the unit to provide more challenging activities and more responsibility. This can be through separating the Brownies into 'Adventure Groups' at times so they can work with their peers on activities focussed to their age group, or challenging Guides to look at BP, Commonwealth Award, Camp Permit, Community Action, or Rainbow/Brownie Helper roles. If you have the capacity, then a Sixer/Seconder sleepover or PL/PS camp can be used as an opportunity for them to go further afield or do more challenging activities which the younger ones in the unit would not manage.


Veteran (100+ posts)
It's easier to head off undesirable behaviours than deal with them afterwards. A feeling of responsibility can really help here.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Not an option for UK units as minimum ages are requirements, but with my Australian units i’ve *very occasionally* given about 6 months leeway on moving up to the Rangers unit. The two examples I can think of were both girls who had been in guiding for many years, were the youngest of their friends, and who were more than ready to move on.
It can be really hard for the girls at the younger end of a friendship group.
It really needs to be the exception though, not the rule, or you shift the dynamics of the older group.
We’ve also very occasionally offered a girl an extra term in our brownies equivalent group- 95% move up “the term after you’re ten”, year, but some need a shade longer.