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And part of the "game of Scouting" is to help the boys.


This is NOT "normal" behavior.


This has been going on for at least 3 years, and these "good parents in a stable home", and his leaders in his Troop don't seem to have grasped that fact. Instead they keep punishing him, even though that has not made a dent in the behavior in at least 3 years.


Before we simply kick this kid to the curb, some attempt to actually help him would be Scoutlike, don't you think?


At the MINIMUM this boy needs a medical evaluation, and counseling.


Sharky, you stated that the dad is a very good friend of yours. I would sit him down, as a friend, and discuss this with him. Try to get him to see that his son needs help.



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I am a Counseling Psychologist. I work trying to keep teens and young adults from killing themselves. Perhaps that gives me a different perspective on things. When I read this post, I immediately saw warning signs and red flags, not about the Scoutmaster or the Troop, but about this boy. Is that qualification enough for you?


In my time on this board, this is only the second time I've ever offered a professional opinion. Both times, I was very careful not to offer any kind of diagnoses or comment on causes. Like Dan Kroh, I can come up with a multitude of possibilities here. And while clearly there is indication of something serious going on (at least to me, and based solely on the description given)it would be irresponsible to speculate on what those possibilities might be, which is why my strong recommendation is that this lad seek professional medical help right away.


Sometimes in the game of scouting, we run into situations like these. Clearly this is something beyond scouting, but part of the game of scouting is to teach citizenship and develop community. What kind of citizenship does it teach if we model making a problem go away by pushing it aside and ignoring it? What kind of community do we have if we decide to punt on problems instead of helping to solve them? It's unlikely that this Scoutmaster, and the Troop can solve this lad's problems. But this Scoutmaster and Troop know that there is a problem and have a couple of choices. They can try to get this lad the help he needs or they can toss the lad out and pretend the problem never happened. I hope I'm never involved with a Scout Troop or Scout Leader that would rather ignore the problem and pass the buck than do the compassionate thing.


This Scoutmaster also states he is good friends with the boys father. In an ideal world, friends care about friends and their friend's family. I can understand not recognizing signs of trouble, but if someone else suggests that there may be an issue, what kind of friend ignores signs of trouble? Hypothetically, what happens if this boy never gets treated and in 2 years harms himself or someone else because of his untreated problems? What happens if no one pushes for this boy to get treatment and it's discovered he had a physical illness which could have been treated if caught in time but is terminal by the time it is diagnosed? How will you feel knowing that you might have been able to prevent it had you just acted when you had the chance?


We are not talking about a 7-year old boy throwing a temper tantrum. We are talking about a 14-year old boy, who should be feeling pretty self conscious about himself, often to the point that he's embarrassed to be seen by his friends hanging out with his parents, throwing temper tantrums characterized as common to a 2-year old in public.


This is not about Scouting. This is not about the Troop. This is not about the Scoutmaster. This is not about the Committee. This is about a boy that appears to be in crisis. This is about what is going to be done to help this boy. Doing nothing is one answer - I just hope most people see it as being the worst possible answer out of all of them.

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"Unless you're a medical professional willing to take this kid on as a patient, keep your diagnoses to yourself."


Can't speak for anyone else, but I only see advice being offered here, not diagnoses.


That advice being, to see the appropriate medical professional who CAN make a diagnosis.



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Yeah, I'm guessing that every SM with a boy with a high fever and abdominal pain is going to get them to medical help. I'll also venture that if the same kid shows up every single campout with a high fever and vomiting and infects the rest of the troop, they're going to act on that, too.


As a friend and someone concerned about the boy, a conversation with the dad is definitely in order. But as Scoutmaster, we should also be concerned for all the Scouts in the troop and must deal with the one boy's behavior from the troop's standpoint. Having to choose between the two actions is a false dichotomy. This isn't an either or situation, it's an ongoing solution to the same problem.


Calico, you may have some professional insight into this the rest of us do not, so it may be appropriate for you to get involved at a level which would be inappropriate for others -- I don't really know, that's a professional call you would make. I don't have that same level of insight. As such, it is important for me to understand my limits. In this situation, my limit is to point out the problem to the parents and let them deal with it.


We are trained as Scouters that some topics are left to parents: religion, politics, punishment, sex. Those topics may arise through our involvement with the boys and we may see or know something we need to pass along to parents, but unless that parents ask for our help, that should be the end of our involvement. This is also one of these situations. While Sharky may have a perspective on the boy's behavior he should share with the father, it needs to stop there.


Advice to "get him diagnosed" is over the line and meddling in the family's business. Unless we are to belive the dad is an idiot, he sees the boy's behavior, goes on the campouts and is deals with it himself. If he chooses to ignore the friendly advice to seek professional help, that is his choice to make. On the other hand, if Sharky believes the dad's choices rise to the level of medical neglect, his obligation is to report the situation to the proper authorities.


While the immediate need may be to talk with the dad, having had that conversation with the dad, Sharky's ongoing responsibility is then to the troop. Our obligation AS SCOUTERS is to deal with a boy's BEHAVIOR (not the underlying causes) and how it effects the troop program. If the boy can remain in the troop while the family gets a handle on his behavior, great. If not, and his behavior continues to be a detriment to the remaining boys and leaders, then he needs to be removed. Hopefully, with the appropriate treatment and counseling he can return to the troop quickly. Whether or not the boy gets help, professional or otherwise, if the situation with this boy festers to the point that other boys drop out, leaders quit and the unit folds, how will we help the next boy who comes along?


There are more options available to the troop that help the boy OR remove him from the unit. Spinning that decision as "tossing the boy to the curb" is unproductive. We all need to do what is in the best interest of ALL the Scout in our charge.(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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No matter what diagnosis is eventually rendered upon this young man, the best thing the Troop can do is to establish a code of conduct based on the Scout Law and then consistently enforce that code.


As others have said, this should involve a meeting with the Scout and his parents to very clearly and neutrally let him know what is acceptable behavior and what is not acceptable behavior and consequences of stepping over the line.


Based on my experience with a similar Scout, I suggest the consequences of unacceptable behavior be an immediate removal from that particular activity, and suspension from the next activity.


It is critical that both this Scout and the other Scouts who witness the tantrums understand that Scouting is a not a right, but a privilege, one that requires we all adhere to the Scout Law.


If this Scout can learn that there are significant consequences to his behavior, and he thereby learns to control his behavior, he will be far better off for the rest of his life. Not only will be a better Scout, but he will set a good example for the rest of the Scouts in the Troop.


If on the other hand he is unable to change his behavior, then he may need significant help, and Scouting may not be the best place for him at this point in his life.


I say all this having experienced both enforcing the Scout Law and the opposite. I can tell you from experience that both the Scout who steps outside the Scout Law, and the Scouts who witness the infraction, fare far better when the code is enforced.


Best of luck on this one Sharky1998... let us know how this develops.


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In light of many of the proactive posts especially the diagnosis of a boy in crisis and the warnings of accepting the consequences of a diagnosis long or short of the matter -


consider the action of "sending him home" (the fact that his dad is there does only postpone and complicated the matter) the action of sending the lad home for "not playing the game" either the first time and each time should tip off the parents that something is not quite right and that something might be palavering with their child causing him to be sidetracked from a game he agreed to play (during the initial Parent-Boy-Scoutmaster conference) and they as parents need to "do something"....


and who else has that right and obligation ...it is a better start in the right direction no matter the yet to be determined "cause".


Sorry but The scout Oath and Law loose face (shouldn't but sadly does) in matters of real world problems and to continue to attempt to salve such behavior by "volunteers of the right sort or those sorted right" just isn't in scout volunteers job descriptions, duties or obligations.


Now having said that and having some experience with a couple lads of such leanings over the years....in our case they just grew out of it or maybe it was the safe haven of random campouts that altered the brain patterns.



We may never know...


all we do know is we "did our best".


all scouting is local






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I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychoanalysist, nor have I ever played one on tv. And I don't really care for Holiday Inn Express's either! :)


This subject comes up every now and then, and at some point, it allways comes down to it possibly being a mental issue and that we are not qualified to make that judgement



WRONG! That is exactly why we MUST make a decision: We do not know what this kid is going through, so it means that we are not prepaired ( this is a general blanket statement) to handle it as it potentailly gets worse. We may not understand how far it will go.


BUT...we do know exactly what kind of trouble it is already causing to the rest of the troop, leaders and program in general.


What interests me is that even dad can't seem to get a handle on his son or recognize what may set him off to begin with.


Now, I also have an inkling that dad enables Jr at home and away from the troop. Seen this in cubs: dad says one thing to Jr, then gives in instead of putting his foot down. Jr learns that he only has to hold out and dad caves in. Of course, when all the pack leadership doesn't cave in, the boy has a mental meltdown because he isn't used to not getting his way.


Now having said that, I am reminded of an old 80's slapstick movie I saw once:


This group of scientists were traveling in space and the ships head scientist/doctor discovers an alien life form. All the crew warns the Dr that keeping the alien on board is a bad idea. The Dr blows them off.


At one point, they hook a translator to the alien who starts singing ( with hat and cane)..." I want to eat your face..and you knees would really please me..."


The crew is freaking out, yet the Dr dismisses it as a different species culture and that the alien can't be blamed for its different mental state.


In the end, the alien kills the Dr and all but 2 of the crew.


So heres the problem as I see it:


The boy may have medical/mental/hormonal iissues. It may not be his fault. You can't really blame the boy if he has no control over it.




The boy is immature, is bullying his way around, and has been spoiled to the point he always expects to get what he wants. He can't handle being told no.


So, you don't want to do a dis-service to the boy.....


BUT......You can't put the troops safety, health and well being above one boy. No, I do not mean it so much as physical health, but if you want the other boys to get the most of the program, enjoy participating and staying active.


You have to protect the health of the troop itself.


Dad either needs to see this taken care of, or Jr may have to stay home.

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This is the Boy Scouts of America not the Baby Sitters of America! This Scout sounds like he needs babysitting! But he is not a baby, he is a Scout! And as a Scout, the most helpful, friendly, courteous, and kind thing the Adult Leaders can do for him and the rest of the Scouts in the Troop is to enforce the Scout Law consistently.


As to the particular elements of the Scout Law being violated by a boy who feels its ok to throw a tantrum every time he does not get his way

Is he Trustworthy? No. Neither the Troop Leaders nor the other Scouts can trust him or depend on him not to have an episode during a Scout activity. This has got to be both embarrassing and distracting for the other Scouts.

Is he Loyal? No. By acting in such a selfish way he is not being true to his Troop or fellow Scouts.

Is he Helpful? No. It appears he does not care about other people.

Is he Friendly? Maybe, but not during a temper tantrum when those around him a try to rein him in.

Is throwing a temper tantrum Courteous? Absolutely not. It is not polite nor is it good manners.

Is it Kind to repeatedly subject your father, Adult Leaders, and Scouts to temper tantrums. No. And its time he learned it.

Is he Obedient? Not at all.

Is throwing a temper tantrum Cheerful? How could it be? In no way is he looking on the bright side of life! He clearly does not cheerfully do tasks that come his way.

Repeated temper tantrums are not Thrifty, Brave, Clean, or Reverent.


Its time this young man learned that he is in the Boy Scouts of America, not the Baby Sitters of America!


Now it may be that this young man has a condition that does not allow him choice in how he reacts when disappointment hits. If that's the case, then he need professional help to deal with his issues. Either way, his temper tantrums do not belong in the Troop.

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Maybe dad needs to stay home and see what happens.


I'm not as psychologist either but I wonder what would happen if the next time this Scout has one of his tantrums, everyone ignored him and went about their business as if nothing happened?


I'll defer to the real psychologists on this one.

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I'm in Evmori's camp on this one. From following the thread, there were a couple of comments that stuck out. One being that when the boy acts up, dad steps in to deal with it, worse possible time he pulls a fit, etc.


Having worked with kids for 40 years, I do know that kids who seek attention will seek negative attention when they don't get enough positive attention. After all, being the center of the stage in a negative way is just as effective as in a positive way if all you are interested in is center stage.


Kids learn from an early age that if they can bully their parents by having a tantrum at the grocery store over a candy bar and it works, surely they'll do it again. Ever hear of the parent that said that they are too embarrassed to take their kids to the store for this reason? The problem is not with the kids, it's the parents. They give in once, they're going to have to give in until they decide to change their attitude and break the cycle.


My wife and I were at the grocery store and my son had one of his little temper tantrums. It wasn't the usual stamping around screaming and flailing of arms and legs, it was the one where he cried so hard he couldn't catch his breath and was heading towards passing out. My wife grabbed him before he hit the floor and laid him down. He did a great job of going from blue to white and then passed out. You should have hear the crowd! WE were the cruel people who were going to just stand there and watch their kid die right in front of them. :)


Well, we were both EMT-A's and knew that when he passed out, his breathing would return to normal. A lady in the crowd finally screamed at my ex-wife and asked her what she was going to do and my ex answered, "When he starts breathing again, I'm going to pick him up with the rest of the groceries and we're going to go out in the car and go home." We did just that.


I have often wondered why we didn't get someone to call child services on that one, but they didn't.


A friend of mine had a kid that wouldn't go down at night and would always scream until they picked him back up. They asked their doctor what they should do about it. He suggested whiskey! They couldn't figure out how giving whiskey to a child would help. He said it wasn't for the kid. You put the kid to bed, say goodnight, turn out the light, shut the door, go down to the other end of the house and pour a glass for him and his wife and sip it slowly. If the kid is still crying and having a fit when the glass is empty, pour another one. Repeat as necessary.


While I am referring to toddlers, the pattern they have learned over the years unless interrupted will continue on to some degree in later years. It's how that child interacts with their parents and if they can get away with it with them, it'll work elsewhere. Some parents even go so far in their enabling so as to join in with the tantrum. They are the Soccer Moms and Little League Dads who are always complaining about their kid's playing time, playing position, etc. And yes, even they will have a tantrum if they don't get their way.


Whereas it is tempting to try and diagnose this problem as the kid's problem, I can assure you it goes far beyond that. If this kid has been around for a while in the troop, I'll almost guarantee the dad's been one step behind him all the way cleaning up his messes. I'm willing to guess mom and dad had to be there every step of the way in Cub Scouts because the DL couldn't "handle his antics".


Break the cycle, the kid won't die if he doesn't get his way! It may take a while, pour a second glass if necessary, but hang in there, it's for the boy's own good.


Give dad a night off and bite the bullet knowing it's but one battle in a war. You may not think at the time it's true but adults can get through it with no real injuries. Some of my best scouts have been those that have stuck it out through my antics of expecting them to grow up and break the cycle of expecting mom and dad to bail out their butts every time they wanted something.


Kids have to grow up and realize that manipulating others around them, including parents, is not proper social behavior for adults.


Stosh(This message has been edited by jblake47)

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I think those who bring up that this behavior could just be the result of parental "giving in" have valid points. And I did not rule that out in suggesting getting the young man professional help.


And here's why.


At 14-years-old, IF the pattern of inappropriate behavior is due to parents not curbing it at a younger age, the behavior is now so deeply rooted that they are unlikely to be able to change it themselves without some professional intervention.


IF the behavior does have some sort of organic (either neurological or somatic) cause, then it is worth (in my opinion) ruling that out first, because that also cannot be changed without professional intervention.


So in either case, professional intervention is likely to be necessary before any change will be realized in the behavior.


Another consideration is that until the young man's behavior is gotten under control, it may be in his best interest to take a break from activities (like scouting, or at least the campouts) that obviously stress him to the point of the tantrums.


The only other thing that concerns me is Stosh's statement that "Break the cycle, the kid won't die if he doesn't get his way!" Like Calico, I work with a lot of young adults in crisis, so maybe I am just overly sensitive to concerns about extreme actions that this sort of statement seems to discount. But I would rather be cautious than sorry about this sort of thing.

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