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GSleaderSG

Parent in need of advice

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Hi, 

I am a parent of a Boy Scout (and a Girl Scout leader of my own troop but that not the topic here) who is having trouble. My son has social issues that make it difficult for him to interact with other boys. This, along with a speech problem makes him a target for teasing. However, he also has anger issues that cause him lash out verbally and become destructive to his own property (think scout book here).  Over the two years he has been involved in boy scouts he has had several instances were he has become angry and defiant at troop meetings and events, sometimes in response to teasing and sometimes in response to other things.   He is also an enthusiastic participant in troop activities and has repeatedly expressed that he wishes to remain in the troop.

We have tried to work with troop leadership to formulate plans for behavior management.  We have gotten assurances from the scoutmaster that leadership will work with  my son to help him integrate better but these plans are not followed through on. This includes situations where other members of the leadership team have contradicted plans we discussed with the scoutmaster (largely due to them not being informed of the plans) and poor communication.  

Unfortunately things have now come to a head. In response to being teased, my son smacked another scout.   Obviously this is unacceptable  and warrants significant action from troop leadership. The consequences are banned from meetings until court of honor and my husband will need to be present for all meetings.  This also will result, although it is unspoken, in not making rank for the next court of honor. 

In general I accept that the consequences fit my son's actions.  But I do not feel that there is adequate work being done to address the underlying problem. My son is not well integrated into the troop and I very much get the impression that leadership just wants him to quit, but does not want to take the steps to remove him. I am worried that there has not been adequate communication between the various leaders and the troop committee about this and other issues.  I am worried that after court of honor he will be asked to leave anyway - in effect leading him on.  Finally I am worried that taking my concerns up with the committee chair will further label my son as troublemaker.  

My son does not want to leave scouting - he does not want to change troops - but I am at a loss of how to address this in the best way for him.  

 

(PS if my scoutmaster reads this, please feel free to contact me about this post)  

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2 hours ago, GSleaderSG said:

We have tried to work with troop leadership to formulate plans for behavior management.  We have gotten assurances from the scoutmaster that leadership will work with  my son to help him integrate better but these plans are not followed through on. This includes situations where other members of the leadership team have contradicted plans we discussed with the scoutmaster (largely due to them not being informed of the plans) and poor communication.

 

 

So was the plan?

 

If he is not integrated well, maybe its time to see other troops and check them out

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One  such plan was to "check for understanding" similar to his what is implemented at his school. The idea is to make sure instructions for troop activities are clearly and consistently relayed to him and that he fully understands the instructions.  One of his triggers is (perceived) inconsistencies in instructions, he doesn't adapt well to change. He needs to be given time to process changes in his plans/expectations. This was one of the plans that was not communicated to the other leaders.  When I spoke to the ASM about the plan (SM was absent that day)  I was told there was no time for that. 

Other plans have have existed in a more nebulous form.  Assurances that "we will work with your son"   but what is/was being done is never clear.  My husband frequently remains for meetings and has not observed any difference in strategy beyond placing my son in teams with more tolerant/friendly boys. 

The issue with changing troops is two fold.  First my son has know several of these boys since cub scouts. While he is not particularity close with anyone, he knows them. He has few friends in his life and scouting is one of his few opportunities for socialization outside of school.  He has strongly objected to suggestions that we explore other troops. Second, unlike this troop the other troops in the area are sponsored by religions organization we are not members of. 

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Unfortunately, it's one of those situations that does pop up in troops. They do have the right to suspend the scout for a length of time. And even though the spirit of scouting says they should be working with the family and the scout on finding ways to mitigate the unwanted behavior, there's nothing out there that is going to make them willing or enthusiastic about it. 

Your concerns about how the troop's adults are going to continue to support your son are real and valid. The only thing you really can do is to wait out the suspension. However, you should even without your son's blessings, set up visits for the parent to go check out other troops. Try contacting the scout master of the troop you want to visit with first. Explain that you are looking for a troop home and some of the issues your son has. You might find adults out there that have better ability to assist your son's needs. Different troops do have different histories about dealing with common issues. For example, I know a few troops in my area that have experience in working with kids with Asperger Syndrome so when there's a scout with that need, these troops come highly recommended. 

I don't know if your son will benefit from having a parent there at all meetings or not. But the troop is not out of bounds for asking for that. It does signal that they are at the end of what they know how to do and are hoping that a parent's presence will mitigate poor behavior. As you can also tell, it doesn't seem that the adults in question here are doing much to address the bullying aspect. Another sign that exploring other troops is a good idea. 

I do recommend not signing up or changing to another troop until after the suspension period. And you can even state that to other troops you visit. It shows that as a parent, you're willing to support consequences for his actions. Yes, he will miss out on some fun things and possible advancement opportunities, but unless he's on a tight timeline that should be part of the consequences. 

Unless the other troops are closed to non-members of the religious organization, it should not matter. 

I understand very well the scout's reluctance in change. My son had the same issues there. It's the change that is the problem and they take time to acclimate to it. 

I hope for all the best for your son and you. 

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3 hours ago, GSleaderSG said:

Hi, 

I am a parent of a Boy Scout (and a Girl Scout leader of my own troop but that not the topic here) who is having trouble. My son has social issues that make it difficult for him to interact with other boys. This, along with a speech problem makes him a target for teasing. However, he also has anger issues that cause him lash out verbally and become destructive to his own property (think scout book here).  Over the two years he has been involved in boy scouts he has had several instances were he has become angry and defiant at troop meetings and events, sometimes in response to teasing and sometimes in response to other things.   He is also an enthusiastic participant in troop activities and has repeatedly expressed that he wishes to remain in the troop.

We have tried to work with troop leadership to formulate plans for behavior management.  We have gotten assurances from the scoutmaster that leadership will work with  my son to help him integrate better but these plans are not followed through on. This includes situations where other members of the leadership team have contradicted plans we discussed with the scoutmaster (largely due to them not being informed of the plans) and poor communication.  

Unfortunately things have now come to a head. In response to being teased, my son smacked another scout.   Obviously this is unacceptable  and warrants significant action from troop leadership. The consequences are banned from meetings until court of honor and my husband will need to be present for all meetings.  This also will result, although it is unspoken, in not making rank for the next court of honor. 

In general I accept that the consequences fit my son's actions.  But I do not feel that there is adequate work being done to address the underlying problem. My son is not well integrated into the troop and I very much get the impression that leadership just wants him to quit, but does not want to take the steps to remove him. I am worried that there has not been adequate communication between the various leaders and the troop committee about this and other issues.  I am worried that after court of honor he will be asked to leave anyway - in effect leading him on.  Finally I am worried that taking my concerns up with the committee chair will further label my son as troublemaker.  

My son does not want to leave scouting - he does not want to change troops - but I am at a loss of how to address this in the best way for him.  

 

(PS if my scoutmaster reads this, please feel free to contact me about this post)  

Did you talk to the boys in the Troop about this, or just the adult leaders?  The adult leaders are not the Troop leaders, the boys are.

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, GSleaderSG said:

One  such plan was to "check for understanding" similar to his what is implemented at his school. The idea is to make sure instructions for troop activities are clearly and consistently relayed to him and that he fully understands the instructions.  One of his triggers is (perceived) inconsistencies in instructions, he doesn't adapt well to change. He needs to be given time to process changes in his plans/expectations. This was one of the plans that was not communicated to the other leaders.  When I spoke to the ASM about the plan (SM was absent that day)  I was told there was no time for that. 

Other plans have have existed in a more nebulous form.  Assurances that "we will work with your son"   but what is/was being done is never clear.  My husband frequently remains for meetings and has not observed any difference in strategy beyond placing my son in teams with more tolerant/friendly boys. 

The issue with changing troops is two fold.  First my son has know several of these boys since cub scouts. While he is not particularity close with anyone, he knows them. He has few friends in his life and scouting is one of his few opportunities for socialization outside of school.  He has strongly objected to suggestions that we explore other troops. Second, unlike this troop the other troops in the area are sponsored by religions organization we are not members of. 

Talk to the Troop leaders--aka the SPL, ASPL and PLs, not just the adults.  I think you might be pleasantly surprised at how much better things will be if you view this as boy-led, versus a classroom situation.  Don't think this will make the boys in the troop think less of your son (they already know he has difficulties), it will help them become part of the solution instead of adding to the problem.  My sons' troop had several autistic Scouts, and the Scouts as a whole watched out for each other.

Edited by perdidochas
Details added

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3 minutes ago, perdidochas said:

Did you talk to the boys in the Troop about this, or just the adult leaders?  The adult leaders are not the Troop leaders, the boys are.

I have not talked to the SPL/PL   Only SM.  I honestly did not even consider it to be an option.  As far as I know the SPL has not been involved in any action plans regarding my son.  

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2 minutes ago, GSleaderSG said:

I have not talked to the SPL/PL   Only SM.  I honestly did not even consider it to be an option.  As far as I know the SPL has not been involved in any action plans regarding my son.  

Boy Scouts is supposed to be boy-led.  The SM should have talked to the SPL about the situation, and the boys should be handling it, for the most part. 

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Posted (edited)

The troop should be youth led as said above, meaning the SPL and ASPL should know of the plan. I’m a youth, and sometimes directions come better with someone around their age. 

We have a few kids in my troop with ADHD and ADD, and we work with it. If you’re losing their attention or starting to act up, you simply switch it up a bit to regain their attention.

I honestly from my viewpoint, it’s going to make everything worse if there is always a parent with him. I would try to work to where it is not needed.

 

I do suggest looking for other troops though. It can never hurt.

Edited by ItsBrian

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Posted (edited)

Thanks all for the suggestions to talk to the youth leaders.  This is a good idea.  I do recognize that the SM's actions are warranted in the face of this serious situation, I'm just hoping that we can find a resolution that is beneficial for all.  

Edited by GSleaderSG

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Reminder that all troops may not be able to and equipped to handle the wide range of Scouts that come their way.  The leaders are volunteers, and they bring only their experiences with them to their roles.  

You have identified some issues your son.  It appears he has some accommodations that have been worked out with the schools - One  such plan was to "check for understanding" similar to his what is implemented at his school

There may be some troops that have more experience with these challenges

 

 

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Lots of good advice. I also agree with talking to the SPL and other scouts. Our troop had several mentally handicapped scouts. Many of those scouts transferred from other programs that weren't as able to work with the challenges of these scouts. However, some of them had to eventually drop our troop because they weren't able to handle the challenge of a patrol method program.

Our way of working with the scouts is starting with the parents. We would ask for their advice, as well as encourage them to participate. The parents of some of our handicapped scouts volunteered as leaders and were wonderful ASMs and committee members. My next door neighbor became the SM of the troop in his church so that he could work with his Downs son, who is not an Eagle.

But as was said, not all troops are as welcoming to the challenge. We had several mentally handicapped scouts, including autism. One of the challenges of these handicap scouts is the differences in the severity of their handicaps. Each are unique and require different skills and methods for working with them. We worked close with the parents and I can say that our troop never asked a single family to pull their son out of the troop. But several families pulled their son out of the troop when they saw their struggles in the program.  For example, one scout was so terrified of water that he had to drink out of a special glass. That scout came to every meeting for a year, but he could never participate in outdoor activities as a result of that one fear. The parents were very active, but they knew our program wasn't a good fit. That being said, I ran into that scout a few years ago while he was employee of a Target store. He pulled me aside and politely reminded me who he was because he was 15 years older. Then he thanked me for some of his fondest memories of his life. He thanked me, but it was his patrol that gave him those memories.

I hope everything works out. Not just for your son, but for his patrol mates also. Scouting is about growth and many the patrol mates of our handicapped scouts grew immensely from the experience.

Barry

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This is where councils should be offering more support to leaders who are in the trenches. 

Our leaders in my district have been told to  “ do like the schools and follow the SPED accommodations”. However they don’t give any resources and what they forget is a lot of (volunteer)leaders don’t naturally have that kind of work experience in that area.   Would it be detrimental for you or the dad to become involved with the troop so if they run into a problem you can help both your scout and the leaders through it?

Does your council have a scouting with special needs person who could maybe be an ally with resources to the leaders in your son’s troop?  That way everyone could learn to work together for the benefit of the boy and any others thy have challenges in the future?

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It has been discussed here and elsewhere for a Scout unit to have a "Behavior Contract" or a "Troop Constitution" or some such.  The de facto Scout Behavior contract is the one each Scout is asked to renew at every meeting.  The Scout Promise and the Scout Law.  Each and every adult Scout Leader and Scout needs to measure  their response to your son by those standards. Review those with your son, and allow him to discuss how they apply to his Scout buds and to him.  How do these ideals help to create a desired atmosphere or world even? 

Yes, you and your Scout need to speak to the SPL and his Patrol Leaders Council.  If they are not in this conversation, what duty do they have to react to your Scoutson's response to the perceived teasing and harassment and, yes , bullying, no matter how mild it may appear ? 

The Scoutmaster is missing a bet by not turning this opportunity into a "Scoutmaster's Minute".  No names should ever be mentioned, but the Scouts and the adult leaders (Scouters) should get the message if it is presented right.  If Mr. Scoutmaster is uncomfortable, or unable to see his role here, perhaps the school Counselor might be brought in, if possible to lend another perspective. 

Every Scout should be brought to the realization that the "Golden Rule" applies here and to everyone in this Troop.  Should your Scout be made to "own" his behavior, his  reactions ? Absolutely.  Should the other Scouts be made to realize and "own" their  behavior that triggers your Scout's reaction?  Even more 'absolutely'.  This is how the first world war got started, by people not realizing the triggers, and the reactions that can escalate ("But it was only a joke !" " I was just kidding !")  into much worse.  One man's hatred led to the deaths of 40 million (give or take....) young and old lives. 

Tell your Scoutson, I am sympathetic to his plight.   Tell him for me, it will get better, and he can help others to make it better, with your help.   

See you on the trail. 

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