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slontwovvy

Trouble with Scout

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In my troop, there's one Scout who completely lacks tact. He will swear loudly in front of parents, will insult other Scouts, and is often condescending towards leaders. He can be a great guy at times and really wants to be in Scouts, but, since he also wants to work with younger boys, I'm a bit leery. How can I get this Scout to either be more polite?

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Slont wovvy,

I'd like to suggest a book to you, "How to Talk So That Kids Will Listen, & Listen So That Kids Will Talk" Faber and Mazlish.

 

There are some methods it will explain to help you find the core of the problem and to help you understand what is tripping this young man's trigger and how to get him to appreciate your expectations.

 

One thing you can do now is make sure you are reinforcing the good behaviour more than you react to the bad. When you compliment his good behaviour be specific about what exactly he did that was good. Rather than saying "I like when you act like this" say "I like the way you handled that problem, you stayed calm, gave it some thought and treated the other person with respect. That showed real character".

 

When he messes up say "I was disappointed in the way you behaved. how could you have handled that better? (listen to his self evaluation) I think that would have been a better way to deal with that. Can I count on you to to do it that way next time? I know you are good scout I want others to be able to see you the way I do."

 

It takes more time to treat each scout this way but you'll get far more growth from them and there will be more respect shared between you and each scout in the troop.

 

Best of Luck,

Bob White

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Slont,

 

I read your posting earlier this morning and was trying to think of a way to explain what I think you should do, then when I got a chance to get back, I see Bob White (IMHO) has written the definitive response. Do what Bob suggests and you will have one heck of a leader!

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I think Bob is right on target.

 

Something to keep in mind may be the "why" is he this way. It could be he just hasn't been taught better by his parents, perhaps they aren't very tactful themselves. Tactfulness is a learned behavior. The other is he may have a problem such as ADHD and not be catch on to social clues very well. Or it could just be he is immature and will grow up.

 

Hang in there and have faith in him.

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Thanks for the suggestions.

 

sctmom, the only thing I know that is remotely related to any conditions is that he has poor eyesight, bad enough to be classified as legally blind. He can still see sufficiently to move and live, but he could never drive a car.

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I don't add this anecdote to frighten, only to inform. Sometimes things that are hidden can color our attitudes towards boys.

 

Some years back, we had such a boy in the troop, and he behaved in a similar fashion to what you've posted. Recognizing that there was a problem early on, we approached his parents. They rather sheepishly told us that the boy had Tourettes Syndrome, and one of the marks of the condition was behavior that might not seem normal. After lengthy discussions to learn what we could about the condition in general and specific to this boy, we thanked the parents, but added that we would really have appreciated knowing about it sooner. They explained that they didn't want the boy targetted as unacceptable before we got a chance to meet him. They had faced that prejudice before. We made it our business to let tham know that we didn't work that way, and knowing about their sons condition would only help us to help him. The boys behavior never really changed, but our understanding of the reasons helped us to work with him , and the other boys, who saw his behavior and questioned it themselves. They learned as much as we did.

 

After that, we made it our further business, in the troop newsletter to the parents of potential, incoming, or present scouts in the troop, (we had another general newsletter for public consumption), that if boys had conditions we should know about, to let us know ASAP, so we could learn about them and deal with them, if we didn't already have experience. Many boys across this country may have conditions like this, or similar, that make their behavior appear less than that which is acceptable for others. We felt that going out of our way to assist as we could with these boys, although a burden of sorts, was well worth it. More important, it was well worth the effort to let Mom & Dad know that their kids weren't beyond our capability to work with, if they were in it themselves with us....which was always the case.

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JMC tells a good story. There are conditions such as Tourette's that could be causing this.

He could even have some emotional problems (anger, fear) about his lack of eyesight. He may think he has to sound and act "tough" to be accepted. He may think he can get away with it since he has the eyesight problem.

 

I think a talk with the parents may help, just to see how they handle it at home and how is it handled at school. Or is this just something he does at scouts?

 

Last month at a troop campout, one of the boys was cussing and yelling. He was quickly pulled aside and it stopped. He has been a scout for a year. He was put in a patrol with a lot of new scouts and made patrol leader. He is immature and apparently wanted to sound like "the big guy" to the younger boys. It didn't go over well with anyone. Luckily he stopped it quickly when told this was wrong.

 

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I guess I am very old school. I would talk to the parents to make sure there is no medical reason for what is happening. If there is not, I would council the scout and let him know that what he did went against the principles of scouting and that it would not be tolorated. Not even once more. Our troop has in place a code of conduct that while it does not specify what is and is not allowed it does specify what actions will occur of a scout fails to conduct himself in a scout-like fashion. These actions run from a parent/scoutmaster/scout conference to permenent expolsion fromt he troop. In 40 years the current SM has only had to ask one scout to leave an dnot come back.

 

I've been in a troop where the actions of one scout drove several good kids away before the scout was brought back into line. Given the choice of losing one or losing several because of the one I lean toward saving the many.

 

If this is a varifiable medical problem then it is a different issue altogether.

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Over the years I've had several boys like this. Actually I have one right now. They're mostly great kids, but are typically allowed to behave like this at home, so they don't know the difference once they get into the outside world. Sometimes it's just a sign of an 11 year old's immaturity. You can usually spot this type of boy when they first join the troop, which is a good time to start enforcing the right behavior. When I hear swearing coming from a new boy, I immediately tell him that it's not acceptable for a scout to talk like that. I usually have to remind him of this repeatedly, but by the time he's in a leadership position he at least knows how to control himself during scouting functions.

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I think Bob & jmcquillan are on the right track. I alos feel if there is no medical reason for this Scout's behavior, then you have a very different problem. If a young boy acts like this infront of his parents then you will have your hands full. I suspect there is some type of medical problem behind this.

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

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