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MattR

Scout Needs Help

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I'm looking for some suggestions.

 

I just had a long phone call with a mom that went through a lot of emotions, crying, pleading, laughing. Her son, in my troop, is struggling in so many ways I never knew about. School, family, everything. All I can say is it's serious. He is getting professional help. This kid really needs scouts because he doesn't have any other friends. He's also 16, so his parents are fairly stupid. Any slight is blown out of proportion. He used to be the kid with all the confidence but now he has none. He also used to be very active in scouts and he wants to like it, but he keeps seeing the negatives.

 

This is way beyond my expertise so all I want to do is be someone he can trust. But he's so fragile I'm afraid if I say I know about any of his problems he'll shut me off. I've tried over the past couple of years to get him reengaged with the troop but it's gone nowhere. Ideas? Experience?

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Pray, keep in contact, keep inviting him to activties. LET HIM KNOW  YOU AND TH E OTHER LEADERS CARE! ( caps for emphais)

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One needs to get the line of communication going with the young man.  I usually start with the back door.  :)

 

The boy is off by himself the rest of the troop/patrol is engaged in an activity.  I would approach the boy and drop an off-hand comment like, "Things sure haven't changed much since I was a scout."  Pause and don't anticipate an answer.    Then maybe drop in a comment like, "When I was that age I was 4' 11" 98#'s.  It really sucked getting left out."

 

Now if he was left out, he'll empathize with you, if not, he'll correct you.  Now it's up to him to respond.  Sit down and wait for it even if it takes all afternoon.  Sitting there with him, your presence let's him know he's important and that's all you need to do get the conversations started.

 

Once they do, listen, listen and listen.  Then listen some more.  Let him vent, don't interrupt until he starts asking questions.  Once he does talk to him as a peer, not a SM/ASM  You started out "When I was that age...." stay that age when talking to him.  

 

Just remember, it took a long time to get him to this point and will take a long time to fix it.  Don't rush it.

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A sixteen year old has the right to know his mom talked to you about stuff.

 

Let him know you're in his corner. You're not repeating anything to other folks, or discuss with him, unless he wants to.

 

Tell him you'd appreciate from time to time if he told you if things are better, the same, worse. No other details required.

 

If you're a praying man, he already knows your praying for him. No need to relay that. Just do what you do.

 

The boy might be distancing himself because he's afraid he'll hurt others -- even if it's just by being a little verbally negative. Respect that. IF he sees that there are boys in the troop who can deal with that, he'll spend more time with them. If not he'll stay at a distance.

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I generally try to approach a problem like this sideways.  Obviosuly I don't know the specifics, but based on what has been described here, if his own confidence is in question, try to find a way to build it back up.  When he was active was there one or more skills he was good at?  If so, could you invite him back to help you solve "your" problem of teaching this skill to the current scouts.  If he's says he's a little rusty or uncomfortable about his current skill level, remind him that Scouts are boy led, and that you would really like one of the Scouts to teach it to the others, but that you would be more than happy to work with him to refresh his skills so he could pass them on.

 

Once you have reengaged him in the unit, and more particularly he feels like he is being useful and helpful to you, it will be easier to progress to achieving your other goals to help this Scout.

 

Alternativly, you may inquire with the Mother to see if she will let you talk to his professional help - not to learn more about his condition, but to get the Counselor/Psychologist/whatever's guidance on what they think the Scout needs and how you could help to provide it within the Scout program.

Edited by gumbymaster

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Did the mother explain what the issue was?  I assume a mental health issue.  Sounds a lot like one of my sons who has an anxiety dissorder.  They typically develop in the teenage years and make big changes in personality.  Can be very frustrating for parents.  Sounds like mom needs as much support as the son.

  • Upvote 1

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I suspect Neal is right, based on my own son.  A common behavior is to isolate himself, so that needs to be broken through.  A scout like this will not sign up for things on his own, he will not move forward on his own.  Offer to pick him up for meetings and campouts, have a fellow scout contact him and invite/voluntell him he should come on a trip.  These kids feel and therefore do paralyze themselves.  A nightmare for parents.

 

Set your expectations low and your engagement high if you want to make a difference.

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Just an update. I talked to this boy Friday night and asked him if I could make right what went wrong. I said I'd listen to what he had to say. He said he'd think about it. Then we somehow ended up talking about religion for an hour. Well, he mostly talked and I mostly listened. And then another boy joined us and we talked some more. The boy had a good weekend. Time will tell.

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Sometimes when it's above your pay grade, it turns out you're the one for the job!

Edited by qwazse

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Just an update. I talked to this boy Friday night and asked him if I could make right what went wrong. I said I'd listen to what he had to say. He said he'd think about it. Then we somehow ended up talking about religion for an hour. Well, he mostly talked and I mostly listened. And then another boy joined us and we talked some more. The boy had a good weekend. Time will tell.

 

Yep, you got the combo right, he talks, you listen.  Other boy joining in was a blessing added to it as well.  The more he talks and you listen instead of judge, the more he will open up and trust.  Well done.

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