I’ve used this a couple of times with pretty good results. “You’re not in trouble, but…” is the perfect medium I’ve found between the lands of Knuckleheadville and You’reawesomeistan. When student isn’t really being “bad”, you just need him to take a break from driving everybody crazy, we too often resort to discipline when what we really want is a break.

Next time Chris, or Suzy or some other kid in my youth ministry is on my last nerve, but not really being “bad”, I’ll say, “You’re not in trouble, but I need you to…”
– Quit shooting Nathan with the water gun
– Stay off the roof
– Put the chainsaw away
– Quit driving the church van when the pastor’s looking… you’re only 12

In addition to this, something I learned from working with Doug Fields over the years is to partner with another leader to take turns managing the extra grace required kid every youth ministry has.