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Cambridgeskip

Handling THAT kid joining

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I thought I'd get some fresh thoughts from the other side of the Atlantic on something I need to ponder. First thing to remember that over here scouts runs 10-14, moving onto explorers at 14 or 14.5. So our scouts are generally younger.

With a load of scouts going to explorers at Easter and a couple of recent quitters we are taking no less than 8 new recruits off the waiting list into the troop shortly..  None of them have been cubs, all are brand new to it. This evening I went through the new names with existing scouts asking who knew them, looking for scouts to buddy them for their first couple of weeks. Found a few and so far so good.

Trouble came with one particular name. It was met with a mix of groans, silence and some actual worried glances. I did a bit of probing. Word is he is that kid at school who throws his weight around gets his way. Not a bully in terms of no indication of victimising anyone, but word is he doesn't let anyone get in his way.  He is already 12 so old to be a new starter in the scout section

Now I’m not going to take that to literally. Kids say stuff, not all of it is true, others get reputations and struggle to shake them off even when they are no longer deserved. So as far as I am concerned he gets the same fair crack of the wip everyone else gets.

However if we assume for the moment that that reputation is deserved I was pondering the best way to handle it. The only two obvious things are

1. Keeping a sharp eye on him
2. Allocating him to a patrol with care to avoid being with anyone that may be easily pushed around.

Beyond that has anyone else ever had to deal with this? Any thoughts on the best way to handle it? It's a new one on me!

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Yeah, scouting becomes such a different environment that there's no way of telling how this will tilt.

A scout like this who has come up to me with issue X (that has nothing to do with safety) will usually get a response like, "Good news: nobody cares."

I try to be as polite as possible and support the chain of command. Generally there's plenty of work to do. So, in the process, things like this find their own norm if you let it. You will probably have to convey to such a scout that you hold your PL's in highest esteem. But, as time goes on, focus on how he/she performs in the troop and encourage the rest of the scouts to do so. Eventually you all might just be able to discuss if a change in manner in the rest of life is in order.

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I am reminded of a concept that's been going around Facebook for a few years: "Don't tell her she's bossy, tell her she has leadership skills." 

I found that some of my most problematic Scouts have also been some of the best PLs and SPLs in the troop. Problematic not just in terms of being bossy, but I'm talking about kids who were busy setting fires (not in safe fire pits or with things that should be burning at all) whenever it wasn't their turn to be in leadership. Some of the most pleasant and compliant and studious Scouts had the hardest time getting things to run smoothly without extensive adult intervention when it was their turn to be SPL (they all seemed to do at least a passable job of PL). I think I only ever had one Scout that was a constant behavior problem regardless of whether he was in leadership or not - and eventually the other kids just learned not to get sucked into his antics, and when to ignore him and when to alert an adult if it was causing a safety problem. 

For those kids who were a problem when they weren't in a position of leadership, it was a learning and growth opportunity (not all of them took it) to get a feel for when it's time to lead, and when it's time to follow. Ideally, all of us will eventually be capable of either role when necessary, even if we're better at one than the other. This particular child may need some very specific guidance in that area, but I suspect he's going to be OK with reminders of "Your place right now is to follow the directions of your SPL; at another time you'll get a chance at seeing how things go when you're in charge."

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Liz said:

I am reminded of a concept that's been going around Facebook for a few years: "Don't tell her she's bossy, tell her she has leadership skills." 

I found that some of my most problematic Scouts have also been some of the best PLs and SPLs in the troop. Problematic not just in terms of being bossy, but I'm talking about kids who were busy setting fires (not in safe fire pits or with things that should be burning at all) whenever it wasn't their turn to be in leadership. Some of the most pleasant and compliant and studious Scouts had the hardest time getting things to run smoothly without extensive adult intervention when it was their turn to be SPL (they all seemed to do at least a passable job of PL). I think I only ever had one Scout that was a constant behavior problem regardless of whether he was in leadership or not - and eventually the other kids just learned not to get sucked into his antics, and when to ignore him and when to alert an adult if it was causing a safety problem. 

For those kids who were a problem when they weren't in a position of leadership, it was a learning and growth opportunity (not all of them took it) to get a feel for when it's time to lead, and when it's time to follow. Ideally, all of us will eventually be capable of either role when necessary, even if we're better at one than the other. This particular child may need some very specific guidance in that area, but I suspect he's going to be OK with reminders of "Your place right now is to follow the directions of your SPL; at another time you'll get a chance at seeing how things go when you're in charge."

Badon Powell used this concept as well, and I had one scout who fit this this model.

But I agree with qwazse, you don’t know until you try. We had one terrier of a scout that changed his ways when he realized we weren’t taking anymore of his crap and assigned an adult to be at his side every moment of his scouting experience. When he realized we wanted him out, he changed. I still remember the very moment the lightbulb turned on in his head. What we learned later was he was adopted and his parents realized they didn’t want him. We were babysitters to give the parents alone time and this scout knew it. He was rebelling and trying to get negative attention from his parents.  But when he realized the troop had reached its limits, he didn’t want to loose scouting. He may have been rebelling, but he liked the program. He is now an Eagle. You just don’t know. 

The hard part is getting the scouts to except him as part of the patrol. I also had scouts that wouldn’t (couldn’t?) change and eventually quit.

Scouting is hard. No two scouts are alike. Throw in a few problem parents and you find yourself loosing sleep.

Barry

Edited by Eagledad
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17 hours ago, Cambridgeskip said:

1. Keeping a sharp eye on him
2. Allocating him to a patrol with care to avoid being with anyone that may be easily pushed around.

Beyond that has anyone else ever had to deal with this? Any thoughts on the best way to handle it? It's a new one on me!

The problem won't be this scout (if he is a problem), the problem will be the other scouts not doing anything about an issue because they don't know how to deal with it. Then it festers and gets bad.

Rather, there needs to be a way to bring up issues. Review, thorns and roses, whatever you want to call it. I'd say you need to keep a sharp eye on that process as well. Ask the leaders how the new scouts are doing. If you can catch any problems early it will be much easier to deal with. The goal isn't no problems, the goal is everyone learning from their problems.

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I cringe when I hear someone pre-judging a boy who hasn't even joined the troop yet.  It makes me think of Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys Town...

Father Flanagan's most famous quote:  “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”

Father Flanagan gives you some ideas for ways to handle the situation:  
- Environment: maybe put "that kid" with an older patrol who won't be intimidated by his more confident (or aggressive) style
- Training: maybe have a discussion with the PL, SPL, Guide, ASMs, etc. and find ways to work with the youth and channel his energy
- Example: pair up "that kid" with a very strong, experienced "buddy" to help him learn the scouting way
- Thinking: stop stereotyping and give the kid a chance, look for the positive and praise him when you see him growing as a young man

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1 hour ago, mrkstvns said:

I cringe when I hear someone pre-judging a boy who hasn't even joined the troop yet.  It makes me think of Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys Town...

Father Flanagan's most famous quote:  “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”

Father Flanagan gives you some ideas for ways to handle the situation:  
- Environment: maybe put "that kid" with an older patrol who won't be intimidated by his more confident (or aggressive) style
- Training: maybe have a discussion with the PL, SPL, Guide, ASMs, etc. and find ways to work with the youth and channel his energy
- Example: pair up "that kid" with a very strong, experienced "buddy" to help him learn the scouting way
- Thinking: stop stereotyping and give the kid a chance, look for the positive and praise him when you see him growing as a young man

Pre-judge is bit harsh, the OP is simply listening to his scouts and planning ahead. How would you have even able to provide your suggestions without a request for ideas.

Barry

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

I cringe when I hear someone pre-judging a boy who hasn't even joined the troop yet.  It makes me think of Father Edward Flanagan, founder of Boys Town...

Father Flanagan's most famous quote:  “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”

 

That's a good pitch line when doing public fundraising, but in reality, it is absolute nonsense. Father Flanagan was wrong. There are lots of bad boys. Some of them are bad to the core. Some of them are incorrigible and extremely dangerous.

Parents expect us to use good judgement and screen out some of those boys. We shouldn't just take everyone. 

The Chartered Organization has the right to reject boys who don't meet their standards for participation in the unit. I understand that the Brits don't have CO's. I have no idea who, if anyone, would make that sort of decision on their side of the pond.

 

 

Edited by David CO

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On 3/21/2019 at 5:14 PM, Cambridgeskip said:

 

However if we assume for the moment that that reputation is deserved I was pondering the best way to handle it. The only two obvious things are


1. Keeping a sharp eye on him
2. Allocating him to a patrol with care to avoid being with anyone that may be easily pushed around.

Beyond that has anyone else ever had to deal with this? Any thoughts on the best way to handle it? It's a new one on me!

 

Yes, I have had to deal with this situation, and there is another obvious way to handle it. Don't take him.

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Posted (edited)

Sometimes you can help a kid. Sometimes you can't. I always cringe when I read or hear someone say just pair them with a good scout. As the parent of a couple of good scouts who always seem to be paired with a "that kid" who had severe issues, I can say over time this is exceedingly stressful and unfair. If adults can't handle the kid, we shouldn't expect another scout to be able to do so except in short doses. I would also point out that this is also a strategy that schools use, so a mature, capable kind kid like this is frequently stuck with a scout buddy or study buddy who is unpleasant and emotionally draining a lot of the time. Scouts of course should be kind and willing to help out, but we shouldn't turn any scout's experience into drudgery. Adults really need to carefully manage this situation and not abuse the good kids to help the problem kids. No kid's scout experience should be more important than another's. We as adults have to balance that and sometimes that means you may have to say goodbye. 

Edited by yknot
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7 hours ago, David CO said:

Yes, I have had to deal with this situation, and there is another obvious way to handle it. Don't take him.

We’re definitely not at that point! All I have at the moment is hearsay from a group of teenagers without even having met the lad. As in the OP he gets a fair go same as everyone else, I’m just looking to make sure it’s handled with care.

 

13 hours ago, Eagledad said:

Pre-judge is bit harsh, the OP is simply listening to his scouts and planning ahead. How would you have even able to provide your suggestions without a request for ideas.

Barry

Thanks Barry! Precisely.

I’m not prejudging, I am simply listening to the scouts and am taking their comments into account when planning for after Easter. I’m not planning on stopping him doing anything or denying opportunities, just looking for ways to subtly manage and potential problems. If it all turns out to be a fuss about nothing then in a couple of months time this will all be forgotten!

16 hours ago, MattR said:

The problem won't be this scout (if he is a problem), the problem will be the other scouts not doing anything about an issue because they don't know how to deal with it. Then it festers and gets bad.

Rather, there needs to be a way to bring up issues. Review, thorns and roses, whatever you want to call it. I'd say you need to keep a sharp eye on that process as well. Ask the leaders how the new scouts are doing. If you can catch any problems early it will be much easier to deal with. The goal isn't no problems, the goal is everyone learning from their problems.

Thanks Matt, this is probably the most helpful post of the lot. Exactly what I’m looking for, a different angle of looking at it. Helping our PLs in particular understand how to manage this sounds like the way forward. And exactly how scouts should work I guess!

unlike most here you’ve met my troop. A generally nice bunch if not always the best organised!

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, yknot said:

 I would also point out that this is also a strategy that schools use, so a mature, capable kind kid like this is frequently stuck with a scout buddy or study buddy who is unpleasant and emotionally draining a lot of the time. Scouts of course should be kind and willing to help out, but we shouldn't turn any scout's experience into drudgery. Adults really need to carefully manage this situation and not abuse the good kids to help the problem kids. No kid's scout experience should be more important than another's. We as adults have to balance that and sometimes that means you may have to say goodbye. 

I see this all the time at school. They like to team up the special ed. kids with our high performing students. They are basically using our best students as unpaid teacher's aides to get the test scores up. This is very unfair. If students complain about it, they get lectured about not being discriminatory and unkind towards the special ed. kids.

The only way to get out of it is to let their own grades/behavior drop to a point where they won't get selected anymore.

 

Edited by David CO

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Cambridgeskip said:

Thanks Matt, this is probably the most helpful post of the lot. Exactly what I’m looking for, a different angle of looking at it. Helping our PLs in particular understand how to manage this sounds like the way forward. And exactly how scouts should work I guess!

You and Matt have very wise insight. A scout doesn’t have to be mean or stubborn to be challenging, they can have significant mental challenges or be physical handicaps. I remember having one such discussion as the patrols were setting up camp. A new Patrol Leader who just receive a mentally retarded scout was finding the scout challenging. He was concerned, so we both sat down and came up with ideas together. Truth was the new scout was a new challenge for all of us. So were were all in the dark. I could tell when we separated, the PL was going to make it work. But I think what gave him the most confidence wasn’t so much our ideas, but that he and the SM were going into this as a team to make it work. He wasn’t alone. 

I can think of a dozen scouts over the years who significantly challenged their patrols. One of the ways we handled it was by reminding the PLC that they were a team. If one of them needed help in any way, ask the nearby youth leader for advice or help. But, more importantly, if you see a youth leader struggling, walk over before he even ask for the help to show support. I especially reminded the older scout of this expectation.

Scouts learn the most by observing; as the young scouts observe these actions over the years, the troop culture matures in its habits and expectations. What I found as our troop matured was that we adults heard less of behavior challenges.  As Cambridge is pointing out, the scouts have developed the skills to deal with all kinds of behavior and nipped the possible problem situations in the bud before they escalated into a problem. That doesn’t happen overnight, but cultural maturity grows faster than you would think. 

Of course mature troops can have their own problems, like what are the adults supposed to do when the scouts are smarter than them?😳

Barry

Edited by Eagledad

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