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-KJ-

Unruly Scout?

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I'm a relatively new Assistant Den Leader for my son's Bear Den.

 

We have a Den of about six kids. A couple are moderately unruly; we handle that at the Den and Pack Meetings without much trouble.

 

This past week we took the boys for two full days; somebody's relative had a house on a lake, we were granted permission to use it over Spring Break to earn some Belt Loops. One of the dads who was an avid golfer came out and helped the boys with their driving and putting, we put a canoe in the lake, they took a long horseback ride along some great trails, we did hikes and campfires and s'mores...and in their down time the boys waded around in the lake and caught frogs during the day and at night there was a huge video-game fest for a couple of hours, and they all sacked out on the floor overnight.

 

I've got one scout who is really being a burr under our saddle in all of this. He has a hard home life; no dad at home, one biological father he doesn't really get along with and an ex-step-father who floats in and out of the scene. Mom is overworked and frazzled and has a very needy toddler to boot. The scout is intelligent and generally decent, but he's beginning to develop a smart mouth. He acts impulsively and when corrected, he'll shrug infuriatingly, and add a smug "I don't care." My immediate gut reaction is to ratchet up the punishment until he DOES care, darn it, but I realize that's the dictionary definition of Power Struggle.

 

To add to the problem, his mom was already with us on the trip. So threatening to have her attend certainly isn't much of a threat. She doesn't seem to have much control over her son, either. She also admits frustration with his behavior.

 

He instigates all sorts of "fun" things; the Scouts are tasked with chores A, B, and C, and the minute your back is turned he convinces the other Scouts to run off and play hide and seek; he leaps into a golf cart and hits the pedal...the cart moves and he gets a glint in his eye that tells you if the cart weren't already blocked in by a car, he'd seriously consider taking off in the thing; he interrupts a Den pep talk about leadership and responsibility several times with," Yeah, can we go play now?"; he argues any punishment, deflects any sort of blame/responsibility, and has a real penchant for prodding the other boys into bad behavior (instigating "rock fights," swinging downed branches at one another).

 

I wouldn't put him into the bully category, but he does have influence.

 

What do we do? Any threats of "You'll sit this one out," are again met with "I don't care."

"Somebody could get hurt." "I don't care."

"Your stuff could get ruined." "I don't care."

 

I feel very limited. I'm not his parent, and feel like I have little influence. I can't see any of the boys having an impact on him, he seems to be at the top of the hierarchy from what I can see.

 

Short of duct-taping him to the nearest tree, :-) does anyone have any suggestions?

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Have you, or any of the other den leaders, taken any training at all?

 

I see some serious safety issues with this whole thing.

 

May I suggest Youth Protection training, Cub Scout Leader Specific, and reading thru the Guide to Safe Scouting and the Cub Scout Leader Book.

 

Meanwhile, POSITIVE reinforcement, not "ratcheting up the punishment" is the way to go. Have any of the leaders talked to his mother about his behavior? She needs to be brought into this to HELP, not as a punishment.

 

He is a 3rd grade boy, "I don't care" is tattooed on his forehead. Why is this a cause for punishment?

 

What was done when the Scouts did not do their assigned chores? What was done when he tried to drive a motor vehicle? What was done when the Scouts had rock fights, and stick fights? What were all of the other parents doing when their sons were doing these things?

 

It sounds like these boys all need to have a refresher course on the Cub Scout Promise, Law of the Pack, and Cub Scout Values. Have them put together their own Den Code of Conduct. Consider a Good Conduct Marble Jar. Be fair and consistent.

 

The Cub Scout Leader Book has a very good chapter on managing boys, and den discipline.

 

 

 

 

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Uhm...

 

Please read the Guide to Safe Scouting, and use the pull-out in the middle for age appropriate activities. It sounds like there needs to be a review of what your pack is doing and maybe some training to help make sure everyone is safe.

 

More than any other boy we serve, a boy without a stable home life needs us the most. These boys are hungry for male attention and for praise. Acting out means something is going wrong at home, but it also means the boy needs a boost to get through it.

 

Think Whitey from "Follow Me Boys."

 

 

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"hungry for male attention and praise"

 

And both the Den Leader and I are women. I am very disappointed that none of the guys have stepped up to take on those roles, too. I think the last thing a lot of these boys need is more mommies.

 

I've only done the first level of training. The Den Leader hasn't done any yet. I'll look up those resources; you have replied faster than Pack Leadership on the matter. TY.

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I've had kids like this in a unit! We all have. How do you deal with them? I don't feel punishment is the answer. Remember you are dealing with young kids who need supervision. What might work is having a male adult work with this boy on stuff. What do I mean by stuff? Anything he does in the Den. Sounds like he needs a guy in his life. I would also ratchet down the attention he gets when he pulls stuff.

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First off, I see that everyone jumped on all of the, G2SS and check the age activities. Why are we critiquing their planning when she asked for help on something totally different. Apples and Oranges.

 

-KJ-

 

It is obvious that this boy needs a good role model. It is not something that will fix overnight. Next trip, I would talk with the other males that are going (or just pick a few) and ask them if they could help.

 

"You'll sit this one out," are again met with "I don't care."

 

Don't make Idle Threats. If you say that he will sit a session out, the make sure that you follow through if he continues with the behavior. If you don't then it shows the other boys that they can get away with it. Judge the time on the activity. Say you have 30 minutes of playing soccer and he has caused trouble. Maybe if he has to sit 10-15 minutes out of the game then gets to return, not only does he learn that you are serious, but he still gets to partake in the event.

 

"Somebody could get hurt." "I don't care."

 

Tell him that personal safety is no joke and that if someone intentionally gets hurt then the whole trip may have to be cancelled. Stand you ground on this. Safety is no joke.

 

"Your stuff could get ruined." "I don't care."

 

Start out by saying that if he wants toruin his stuff, then he wil be the one with the 'torn tent' or the 'broken hiking stick.' Let him know that it will only ruin his stuff. But also tell hiim that in no uncertain circumstances will you let him damage someone elses porperty.

 

Hope this helps.

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Sometimes, that kid that leads the others to idleness can be (or become) the kid that leads them to more positive things, too.

 

There's a young man in my Webelos den that thrives on being in charge. When he doesn't buy in to whatever is going on, he's a distraction to us all. But when he's in, he's in, and so's everyone else.

 

and I also would mention consistency. Consistent expectations, consistent consequences.

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The issue of the G2SS rules needs to apply as well as the issue of helping this leader with an unruly scout. When reading the story, my first thought went to youth protection before even getting to the problems of the unruly scout.

 

When BSA rules are not followed by the leaders (known or unknown), how can we expect our scouts to obey rules that we need to enforce? Besides, if this scout had caused serious problems, and the adults created an environment for problems to arise, BSA insurance probably would not have been in effect.

 

Our troop has a policy of behavior based outings. Past behavior of a scout is weighed into their ability to attend a future outing. We have had unruly scouts before, but once they find out their actions caused them to miss something fun, we saw immediate changes in their behavior. We had tried sitting out unruly scouts during an event, but what do you do when a younger scout refuses to obey and sit out. You can't physically restrain them, so it may appear that we are not in control. By not having them at the next outing, they are forced to sit out at home and think about it.(This message has been edited by Roadkill Patrol)(This message has been edited by Roadkill Patrol)

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We have a Pack-wide family campout coming at the end of the month where I can try to implement whatever suggestions y'all might have. Still listening openly!

 

Our Pack doesn't currently have any Webelos (there are no W1's and the W2's moved up by now); which means our Den will be "top of the food chain," so to speak. I really want these kids to be role models to the younger Scouts...

 

Our experienced CM moved on with his Webelos 2 son, and we're left a bit green on staffing...we're a mess, aren't we?

 

To answer some questions:

 

Chores are abandoned: Scouts were recalled to finish the chores, which they did. It's not like they went off to play and everyone shrugged and said, "Oh well." It's simply that they ought not be running off in the first place. We did notice that when the chores got harder, there was more interest. "Stage your gear in the garage" wasn't nearly as interesting as "You may pack the van."

 

Unauthorized Driving: The Scout was next to the cart legitimately, putting something away. I think he was seized by the moment and impulsively sat down and hit the pedal, not really knowing it would MOVE. He was, however, delighted by the turn of events. I said something to the effect of, "Absolutely not. Get out of there. Are you sixteen yet? Then you're not allowed to drive." He sat there and sort of cocked his head, looked at me with bright little eyes. Seemed to be weighing the options mentally. "Out." He got out.

 

Rock fights / Stick fights: They were stopped within the first minute of them starting (who actually WANTS to have a rock fight? This is beyond me.), and the boys stopped throwing rocks and put down the branches when ordered to.

 

Is this just boredom? Idle hands and all that?

(This message has been edited by -KJ-)

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Hi, KJ,

 

Everyone is trying to be polite and tip-toe around the elephant in the room, so I'll write what everyone is thinking. The trip you described violates the guidlines for age appropriate activities for Cubs in mutiple ways. First, only packs go camping, not individual dens. Horseback riding is an issue as is canoeing. Use of the golf cart could be if the boy were allowed to use it (although it sounds like they were not). There are specific requirements for each. As has been suggested, you and the other leaders really need training to understand the policy.

 

I know you didn't ask, but consider this a BOGO sale on advice.

 

As to your Scout, let me present this as a question to the group: Is Scouting -- especially Cub Scouting -- really the best place for this kid to get the help he needs?

 

Although a great over simplification, I agree this little fellow needs some strong influences in his life. Individual attention, a strong male role model and consistent, firm discipline are all needed.

 

Are we really set up for that? Granted, the male role model is one of our strong suits, but not, apparently, in KJ's den. Individual attention? With 8 other kids in tow? Hmmm. And discipline? As is being discussed in other threads, Scout leaders are rather limited in our options for meteing out punishment to Scouts. Personally, I think this kid is suffering from a vitamin BL defficiency -- as in Belt Leather -- which needs to be applied regularly to his backside. But as Scout leaders, raising the level of discomfort to make the kid care isn't our job. In fact, there is a fairly low threshold at which we are precluded from that. About all we can do is remove the kid from the activity or make him sit out. And it sounds like this kid is pretty good at shrugging off that sort sort of thing. You're right, KJ, this is a power struggle, and the boy is winning.

 

I've had Scouts like this in the pack and troop over the years. Several times different leaders do try to take them under their wing. But especially in Cubs, leaders are trying to deal with their own son(s) and their responsibilities to the den or pack. Trying to provide individual attention to another kid is tough. As KJ suggest, it would sure be nice if one of the other dads would step up, but I've not seen that happen. My experience is that the folks interested in working with other peoples' sons are the ones who raised their hand when the pack needed volunteers.

 

In the few situations I've watched where Scout leaders have taken on boys like this, the relationship has been very hard to maintain over time. The biggest obstacle has been the parent. Staying with Scouting is tough without supportive parents. A harried, single mom, often sees Scouting as a break from the kid, not a time to get involved.

 

But maybe that one year in Cub Scouts is enough? Maybe 20 years from now the boy remembers his couple Cub Scout campouts sitting around a campfire with Mr. (or Mrs.) Smith as something that made a difference.

(This message has been edited by Twocubdad)

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Elephants: Thank you for being brave enough to be painfully obvious. That's interesting. We were mainly going on the Belt Loop requirements, which I thought were Cub-Scout specific. I'll obviously need to check that out further.

 

LOVE the Vitamin BL deficiency!

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Maybe it is the idle hands.

 

Maybe someone might want to see if there is something that the young lad may want to do. I know that we try to give our boys some options when we go on our campouts.

 

Maybe have him come up with an activity.

 

Does he have any other family in the area. Remember that Cub Scouts need to have an adult that is specifically assigned to during campouts. IF the person bringing the boy is not a direct parent, review the YP rules and have some fun.

 

Someone was right, maybe this is a great leader, in a tough shell, that just needs to be given a chance.

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Idle hands?

 

It didn't sound like it to me...reality is that you cannot keep everyone busy 100% of the time in a campout environment.

 

It sounds like there is a lack of parental control...and if there is *lack* parental control, you will have *no* control in a Scout setting.

 

There are some other possibilities...ADHD being one of them...but I'm inclined to believe that this more the refusal of Mom to pin the boy's ears back.

 

Sometimes, you have to tear them completely down to rebuild them the right way.

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Chores? What chores? These are Cub Scouts not Boy Scouts. While the boys should be helping out, it is really up to the adults to do the chores. Yes the boys should be involved but not to the point where you give a group a chore & walk away. The adults should be showing and helping the boys with these chores.

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This boy doesn't need a good male role model. He needs a good role model period. Male or female. Sounds like his mom is in over her head.

 

I would suggest an honest conversation with the mother. If she can't find a way to correct her son's behaviour BEFORE scout meetings/events, then the boy has to be excluded from them. It is too important for the environment to be safe for the whole, that it just may be necessary for this individual to be removed.

 

Who know's, maybe it will encourage him to control his unruly nature and strive to be a better scout. Or maybe his mom will take the hint and find an organization better suited for her son. Like the Big Brothers, where the scout will get direct one-on-one attention. Something you can't provide in the CS program.

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