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  • Teaching Respect?

    Greetings fellow Scouters! As this is my first post here, a little about me. I'm an Eagle Scout ('92) who took a hiatus of ~20 years as I went through college, work, starting a family, etc. I have a 6 year old who wanted to join last fall, so I became his adult partner and it was immediately apparent that our small, somewhat foundering Pack needed me, so I joined up as a Committee Member and then shortly thereafter, Assistant Cubmaster. Our Cubmaster announced earlier this year that they were moving on, so as of last night I stepped into the Cubmaster position. Talk about being "all in"!

    Anyway, we had our Graduation Ceremony last night and it was a wonderful evening with one small (well...really not small) "issue".

    Our Cubs have a tremendous lack of respect. Not only for the leaders, but also for each other. Unless they were the ones up front getting an award, they were talking, making rude noises, out of their seats shaking their butts, that sort of thing. It doesn't help that some of them are chronic behavior problems and that their parents don't bother to do anything about it.

    Certainly part of this can be attributed to "boys will be boys", and some of it can be definitely attributed to the fact that they were all amped up last night to receive their rank and move up to the next den. As a father (and one time young boy) I can appreciate that.

    But at the same time, as a kid, I never would have dreamed of acting like this. I knew that when an adult was speaking that I was to be silent and be respectful. I also knew that I'd "hear about it" when we got home if I wasn't. That doesn't seem to be the case with these kids (or their parents, more's the pity). to teach the boys respect? Any tips? This is "Golden Rule" stuff--treat others as you'd like to be treated and that sort of thing. And how to get the parents to reinforce that at home (which, IMO, is probably the crux of the problem in the first place)?

    I felt like I spent more time with the Scout Sign in the air than anything else, and that's disappointing.

  • #2
    Yah, mrface2112, welcome to the forums!

    I hear yeh. See this a lot at cub events in particular.

    A few thoughts for yeh.

    First, is your event tailored to the age and attention span of the kids? By and large, I think Cub Scout B&Gs and similar events are terrible events for the kids. Looonnnggggg, droning affairs where adults spend as much time recognizin' each other or listenin' to themselves talk as they do recognizing the boys. So that's the first order of business, eh? Decide whether this is for the lads or for the adults. If it's for the lads, plan it to meet their needs and keep it snappy. Practice in advance, keep to your timing like it's a solemn vow, have lots of action, and breaks, and changes of pace. If it's for the adults, let the kids go run off and play after the first bit.

    Second, practice in advance. Rehearse with the boys at den or pack meetings. Be consistent. Work steadily toward da goal over several years. Yeh can't expect the lads to suddenly stay seated and quiet at the most excitin' event of the year. Yeh have to build up that norm at your other meetings throughout the year. Teachin' behavior is a long campaign, eh? Don't focus on individual battles won or lost. Most important here is to get buy-in from your den leaders, and coach 'em a bit.

    Ever visit your son's elementary school? Lots and lots of procedural and behavioral practice. Lots and lots of explanation. Lots and lots of gentle personal correction rather than tryin' to control the whole group. Yeh can steal some of this, eh? And yeh can build off the school norms that the kids already know. Ask da school principal or your son's teacher what they do at school. Those things will be somethin' the kids are used to that you can borrow.

    Third, yeh have to decide about parents. Parents are hard to change, eh? Oft as not their own yacking to each other sets the tone. If yeh think yeh can get 'em on board, set expectations for parents monitorin' their kids behavior gently, friendly, firmly in advance at a pack committee meetin' or in person or whatnot. This yeh might be able to do, but it might be better comin' from an older person, church COR, etc. - someone who isn't perceived as a "peer" parent. Grandmotherly authority figure type. But because parents are hit or miss, yeh mostly want the lads to be seated by den with their den leader, just the way they've practiced all year.

    Lastly, yeh have to lighten up a bit, eh? It's cub scoutin', not church. They're elementary school kids. A certain amount of chaos goes with the territory.



    • #3
      Back in my day......

      Late 60's pack meeting....Ya acted up mom and/or dad would snatch you up and out the door.....You would return a few minutes later red eyed.......

      Now a days.....The kids back talk, even had one boy punch mom at a den meeting, 6 year olds cussing like sailors, all the ADD drugs and the highs and lows associated with those......

      June and Ward Cleaver are dead for sure.

      Had a first Pack meeting just like you described.....Don't raise your voice, the kids are yelled at all day every day and functionally immune to it. Stand their calmly with the cub sign up till they quite down. First time it took 10 minutes....Don't let the parents or other leaders yell to quite them down. Get the awards out of the way quick....Then have a physical game or two....get them out of their seat and on their feet......they have sat at school all day.....

      Are you going to change them with only an hour a week...No. All you can do is be an example show the boys you respect them and they may return the favor.


      • #4
        There are some people here who might want consider offering some respect to others.
        Boys might not always do what we say but they always do what we do.
        We set the example, sometimes not a positive one.

        mrface2112, as far as your situation, boys have way too much energy to sit still. Keep awards ceremonies short and have fun activities afterwards for the boys to do. Then tell them they can do the fun stuff as soon as you get through the awards ceremony and the less interruptions we have the sooner we can get done. When the offenders interrupt, stop and wait. If there's no time for the fun activities then let them know why. Peer pressure is wonderful at redirecting the misguided.

        My troop had a problem with packing to leave from camping on Sundays. Late sleepers, goofing off, scouts not helping to pack all led to late departures. We solved the problem by offering a fast food stop on the way home. If we leave by 11:00 we stop for lunch on the way home, if we leave at 11:01 we don't. The scouts make the decision. We usually leave early now and enjoy a lunch stop on the way home.


        • #5
          Thx eagle I appreciate that


          • #6
            Hi Mrface

            Welcome to the forum. Lots of good stuff here when you clear away the the chaff.

            You're doing it wrong. If the scouts are paying attention, they are having fun. You need to go to the Cub forum and ask how to making pack meeting fun and exciting. When you are doing it right, the scouts are standing more than sitting, yelling and cheering more than listing patiently, laughing and looking forward to the next skit.

            Evauate all your meetings, every time you see scouts talking to their buddy, they are likely bored, so, change what you are doing. Put boring announcements in news letters. Shorten award ceremonies by presenting them by age, not dens. Do lots of cheers that requires scouts to stand and yell. Only sing songs that are fun for kids, not adults. Tell lots of jokes.

            You will know when you are doing it right because your scouts will be exhausted.

            So before you go and try to change the parent's parenting skills, change your meeting. It's a lot easier and more fun.

            I love this scouting stuff.



            • #7
              In today's rapid pace of Sesame Street attention spans, it's a wonder any of the kids today ever sit still long enough for any instruction on self-respect and respect for others.

              For the most part respect is taught by demonstration, not instruction, so over the years I have adopted a variety of different "techniques" to deal with the situations I run into.

              First of all the taught reaction to acting up/disrespect is to blow up in the kid's face. Ask any parent who has reached the end of their rope. Then there's the interrupting their interrupting. Like teaching a kid not to hit others by spanking them.

              So what does one do. Do what the kids don't expect! Totally freaks them out.

              When I took over a troop as SM, I never used "sign's up". I walked to the front of the room and waited for their attention. The kids expected sign's up. Eventually the SPL stood up and quieted down the group and got their attention. I thanked them for their attention (even though it was forced) and continued. After a couple of times going to the front for SM Minute, they would quiet down as I approached. I never interrupted their interruptions with sign's up.

              I always referred to them as Mr. and their surname. Eventually they addressed me as such. Their former SM was known to them by his first name only. They addressed me by my first name for a week or so, but soon they all switched. You know you have earned their respect when they turn 18 become ASM and won't switch over to using the familiar first name as one would do as adult friends.

              If they were caught doing something "wrong", I never raised my voice. Just started asking quiet questions, addressed to the individual by their Mr. surname. If it was a multiple boy fray, and other boys jumped in. I would simply repeat the question with the Mr. surname boy. Then I would go to the next boy, address him and pose the necessary questions. The boys all quickly learned that they would all have a chance to state their case and it didn't need to be at any intense level nor did they have to interrupt in order to do so.

              One does not garner up respect by making rules and enforcing them. They only demonstrate to others the expectations one would like out of them. The Golden Rule kinda civility.

              One gets respect by showing respect.



              • #8
                Thanks y'all. Clearly I'm not alone in this. If it were older Scouts (Boy Scouts), it'd be one thing. I'm dealing with Cubs here--and young ones at that, Tigers, Wolves and Bears.

                Like I said, a certain amount of this can (and is) attributed to "boys will be boys"--the restlessness, general silliness, etc. I was a boy once and totally understand--I can work with that, no biggie. I've "done time" in Public Education as well, and know all too well about tailoring the program to fit the kids.

                Mostly I'm referring to addressing the talking back, foul language, etc. We actually had one kid hit his mother when she corrected him (which she addressed via the "60's Pack Meeting" method BasementDweller referred to). Stuff completely unbecoming of Scouts, especially Cub Scouts.

                For now I'm using the "Signs Up" method, which works for about 2 minutes--long enough to announce the names of the kids to come up front to be recognized and then it's chaos again. Repeat with "Signs Up". Sounds like that's going to have to be the approach for now, along with working with the parents.

                Does anyone have any Pack Program ideas for a "Respect" Theme?



                • #9
                  An additional thought that worked for us.

                  We have the boys sit by dens on den blankets at the front close to the action. Den leaders are with the den on the blankets. Webelos have earned the right to sit together in chairs. This takes care of a lot of motion and behavior issues.

                  First graders at school are reminded before an assembly how to behave. This also might work for your den.

                  Rewards and praise for what goes well.

                  And yes, revamp the event to fit the boys.


                  • #10

                    First welcome and hope you get some good info on here... most of us have been in your shoes a time or two.

                    I too, went from Tiger Cub Den Leader to CM and then held that post for 3 and 1/2 years, so it is a baptism by fire for sure. A few pearls of wisdom I gathered...

                    1) For pack meetings, have the kids sit as dens, not with their parents. Your DEN LEADERS should sit with their den and THEY are in charge of controlling the scouts in THEIR den. Peer pressure actually works well this way.

                    2) I at times used prizes (i.e. silly bands, temporary tattoos, etc..) - I'd announce at the start of the meeting that the best behaved den would receive the den award at the end of the meeting. Positive peer pressure for less than $5 a meeting in prizes.

                    3) We began each meeting with a "reminder". I told the boys there are 3 times I expect silence and attention: when we are doing something with the flag (flag salute), any type of prayer / invocation, and when we were giving out rank awards. Other than that, use silly cheers and chants to applaud the scouts coming up to receive an award. Google run-ons and cheers and you'll get a bunch of ideas, but the sprinkler cheer, watermellon cheer and catus cheer are three solid stand-byes we always used.

                    4) Check out the parents. Once the kids began to calm down, you'll likely find its the PARENTS that talk while the leaders are talking... the kids are just following the example! Don't be afraid to call out the adults for being rude. I once stopped mid-sentence and walked to the back of the room and stood next to a dad having a loud cell phone conversation in the middle of the meeting. I stood there until he noticed I was standing there (about 2 minutes) - the kids all laughed at him! From then on, if there was a "parent" issue, I'd tell the boys it was time for the Shhhhhh~! cheer - they'd all turn around in their seats and Shhhhh the parents that were talking too much!

                    5) Keep it fast paced and moving. I don't care how many awards you got - meeting should be 1 hr max. period, do not deviate from this plan. The clock is ticking.

                    6) Segways are HUGE - even 30 seconds of silence / break in the flow or action is an invitation to chaos. If you are in between awards, have your ACM be lining up the next award and ready to call the boy up as YOU tell a joke from the back of Boys Life of something like that. The, "um,... just a miunute here, we'll be calling up the boys for wolf rank as soon as I find the list..." = you just lost their attention.

                    7) Get them out of their seats... make sure to have someone to run a gathering game pre-meeting to run out some steam and maybe have a game (our boys LOVE tug of war den vs adults) at the end of the meeting. Bookend the sitting still with something active for eveyone to do.

                    8) Last - if you have something important to discuss - make it special. Example, do a Cubmaster minute about RESPECT. Have a faux campfire ring on the stage and invite the boys to come forward and sit around it, as they do, have someone dim the lights in the room. Have the glow of your fire and a couple lanterns be the only light and then proceed with your message. It makes the scouts feel like its a special message meant just for them and not the parents, they are involved and have to physically move to participate. You will get a better response than if its you lecturing them about behavoir like they're sitting in class.

                    Like another poster mentioned - they've sat in school all day and been talked to. Keep it fun, keep it moving and make your CM minute special and they'll pay attention to the message.

                    Best of luck and hope you find some solutions here,



                    • #11
                      All good advice. Remember that the boys sit all day in school and are pretty fed up in the evening, Get the boys more involved in the ceremonies--have them make up some of the ceremonies. Also--their boys! The ones with the most energy can be some of your most active scouts but they do get bored. I also tried to do some response from the boys to get them more involved. We used to encourage a den yell whenever their name was mentioned--it got a little wild but they listened more.

                      Agree on coping ideas from school -- or doing the opposite. Good-I noticed early elementary teachers lightly touch the head or shoulder when directly addressing a boy. I copied that for Tigers and worked great. Bad- Avoid the temptation to do fill in the blank worksheets. Schools do that a lot in lieu of hands on and most boys do not get much out of it. Do as much hands-on as you can.


                      • #12
                        Oh yeah a P.S. on my post...

                        I've never been a big fan of holding up the sign, its too passive to get their attention. I use the "Clap once if you can hear me, clap twice if you can hear me, clap three times if you can hear me...." By the time you get to the 3rd clap, most everyone will be eyes on you and not talking, why?

                        The brain has to THINK to follow the action of clapping with the group. The scout has to engage in an activity. Its hard to think and talk at the same time.

                        Its very easy to stick your hand in the air with two fingers up and keep gabbing to your freind next to you.

                        Use the body's physiology against itself and FORCE their attention.

                        You just state it in a normal talking voice and clap the number of times each time you say it. Longest it every took me was 5 claps and that was at a council event with nearly 100 boys in the crowd.


                        • #13

                          Welcome to the forum. You will receive information on this forum that applies to a variety of different aged groups and yes I was aware of the fact that your problem is focused more on the younger scouts. However, one can never start too early with teaching respect. This, of course, requires a bit of adaptation to not only the age group, but the social-economic issues as well as current environment.

                          Over the years I have found that the younger the age, the louder the noise. So, I adapt by speaking more quietly to the younger folk. This way the young person's interruptions are far more often corrected by their peers who can't hear what they might be interested in. An adult can talk until they are blue in the face, but the buddy next to the offender can shut them down in a matter of seconds.

                          I recently did a presentation at a Blue Gold Banquet that after an hour and 15 minutes I called it off to the groans of the crowd, they wanted more. It was the only time of the whole evening when the kids sat totally quiet. I talked quietly and directed my attention to the little ones in front. Heck, if the adults can't hear from the back of the room, they can come forward. Not my problem. I was doing a presentation on Civil War uniforms and equipment. I was covering topics well above the kids' learning level. However, during the presentation I had one of three weapons in my hands that I "fiddled" with. I didn't have to talk about the weapons, but the anticipation of my getting to it kept them quiet. Took out the rifle, looked it over, put on the bayonet, wiped it down. Then I pulled the rammer and dropped it down the barrel, the whole time I explaining the causes of the Civil War. My voice kept the adults happy and playing with the gun kept the kids quiet. I had a variety of different uniforms that I had the boys model, while standing on a table so that those in back could see. The quiet best behaved kids got to put on the uniforms. Then I went into the camp equipment while I played with the officer's hand gun. Spun the chamber a few times, worked the rammer, wiped it down, etc. Then after that section was done, the officer's sword came out. When I finished with all the presentation except for weapons, I finally got out the guns and sword and talked about them as I re-demonstrated them once again.

                          Questions? Plenty. The more you get, the more you know the kids are paying attention. Stupid questions? They're the best. One kid asked if I were going to be a real soldier what did I want to be. I said General because they made the most money. Some of the boys even commented and asked that if the gun could shoot only one bullet at a time and it took 20 seconds to reload, wasn't that dangerous? Yep. You're out there having been trained to be the best, and then apply that to doing your best, working hard and being ready for dangerous situations in life. Every question worked it's way back to scouting.

                          Why did it work? Because I treated everyone in the room the same regardless of age or interest. The adults got short answers, the kids got lessons in scouting.

                          After I was done, and everyone needed to get back to their seats, it was difficult to drag all the little ones who rushed the display to see things up closely.

                          So, it can be done, one can keep a bunch of Tiger Cubs interested for long periods of time, if, of course, you know how to think like a Tiger Cub.



                          • #14
                            You'll find that the kids who don't show respect have parents who don't respect others either.

                            Even with my boys ADD/ADHD, it was never an option for them to be disrespectful. I have pulled my boys from activities and gone home because of it. I find you need only do that once.

                            I had one incident on one of my 9-10 baseball teams once where I had a kid who was completely out of control all the time. Trashing the other players, regardless of the team, defiant to coaches, umpires...etc.

                            I pulled the parents and player aside at the end of a practice, and proceeded to read them all the riot act. I was *not* nice. I gave them two choices, shape-up or ship-out...that I had absolutely zero tolerance for his behavior, that I don't put up with that from my kid, I certainly am not willing to put up with it from theirs.

                            He game back two days later and played his heart out the rest of the season. Never anything but yes sir, no sir, yes coach, no coach, thank you coach.

                            IMO, that exactly what Scouts is missing, even in the Troop level, its totally inappropriate behavior from 99% of the participants. SPL's aren't capable of instilling fact, the SPL's are sometimes the biggest offenders.


                            • #15
                              When I was an ASM I was serving with a Type A SM. His style was a bit over the top for me, but I got along with him otherwise. Being a by-the-book kinda guy he did send a lot of boys home, had parents attend, etc. the standard stuff. He often chided me for not being a very good disciplinarian. I told him I didn't notice the behaviors he was experiencing. He said I was lucky, then. However, it wasn't an issue of luck in as much as it was an issue of fear. I would describe some of the situations coming very close to bullying. Never really going over the line. But the boys feared him. When the boys were around me, they seldom acted up and if I caught them at something, the first thing out of their mouths was, "You're not going to tell Mr. S (SM), are you?" My standard answer is, "Should I?" They were actually afraid of him.

                              The technique I use with scouts is quite a bit different and yet as one boy stated once, they were afraid of me too. Because I treated them with respect and placed high expectations on them, he said he was afraid of disappointing me. That kind of fear is not the same as that which is evoked through discipline.

                              Another boy got chewed out and when I saw him after the SM got done with him. I said I noticed he got his head handed to him. He said yeah. I smiled and said, I bet you don't do that again anytime soon. He started to explain why he did what he did, but I interrupted him and said, I didn't need to know what you did, but I was more interested in what he was going to do from now on. The conversation took on a whole different attitude.

                              I once had someone ask me what respect was and I gave the standard definition. He said, Nope. The word respect comes from two Latin words: re- to do something again and -spect meaning to look or to see. (think spectacles = glasses) It means to give a person a second look or chance. People whom we respect we will take the time to look again. People we fear are people we avoid, we do all we can to keep away and never take that second look. This is why servant leaders draw people in while directive or demanding leaders push them away.