Destructive 8 year old

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Registered: 10-02-2006
Destructive 8 year old
6
Tue, 10-31-2006 - 7:58pm

Hello Everyone,

I desperately need some advice on dealing with one of our scouts that is quietly destructive. There are some things going on at home so I know that everthing isn't 100% perfect there, but I'm nopt allowing that as an excuse for her behavior in scouts.

In the past, she has broken the troop crayons, wadded up supplies that other children want to use, attempted to steal craft supplies -- and after I reminded her that they needed to be left for future use, I caught her trying to slide them under some papers.

Today, we went to a local museum to work on a badge. While we were there, she sat next to my daughter and held her magic marker to the side so that it got on my dd's new pants. I saw the entire thing this time. When I pulled her to the side, I told her that I saw what happened and it was not ok to mess up someone else's belongings. She said it was an accident, and it told her it was not -- I saw the entire incident. I also said that I was telling her nicely this time, and next time it would not be so nice. In retrospect, I probably should have said that if it ever happened again, she would not be allowed to go on any trips with us in the future. I still may do this at the next meeting.

Have any of you had experience with this type of child? Ours is really disarming because she smiles all the time while she quietly, secretly destroys things. We never really catch her in the act, but have a pretty good idea that it is her based on the things we have caught her doing. When we catch her, she always says it was an accident. Or she'll flat-out lie about it.

My co-leader and I talked about it this afternoon and decided that it probably isn't going to do any good to tell her mother. She seems to hide from reality quite a bit and is overwhelmed with her own life right now. We're thinking about documenting these things as they happen and then meeting with her in the future.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!

Yvonne

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Registered: 04-26-2002
Wed, 11-01-2006 - 12:42pm

I'm no expert, but these sound like attention seeking behaviors. My first suggestion would be to do just as you said...tell her that inappropriate behaviors will not be tolerated and come up with a consequence like not going on the next trip...not every trip, just the next one, then the goal is the next trip, then the next one...assuming you do trips semi-frequently. I would also suggest putting her into a leadership role (that's me not knowing this kid at all...) such as flag holder or her being in charge of the crayon/markers for an activity...passing out, and putting away. I would also try to verbally comment to her when she's behaving appropriately...every time to start, then work out a secret code like a sign (tapping on her shoulder, or a quick wink) to let her know she's doing a good job so you don't always have to say it...then she can look forward to getting attention from you for positive behaviors...and she needs to know she's going to get that attention each time to start with. Perhaps you could try some Try-It's like Manners or Friends or whatever those ones are that have sections on role-playing. Don't have her go first there, but do have her take a turn...modeling the wrong way and the right way may be fun for her?

I could be completely off base with that reply, but I hope it helps. I may also try asking for suggestions from her teacher of what works with "that type of kid" without asking specifically about her, since stuff like that is mostly confidential, unless her parents allow. Her teacher will surely know why you are asking!

Best of Luck! A kid like that can be a challenge, but once you work out your system, I'd bet she will be a lovely young lady and the whole world will benefit!

Jen

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Registered: 03-19-2003
Thu, 11-02-2006 - 8:26am
I think that even if the mom hides from reality, you do need to let her know what's going on.
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Registered: 10-02-2006
Thu, 11-02-2006 - 10:28am

Thanks for the advice!

We consulted with a child psychologist and she was alarmed at the behavior. I won't get into the details, but this is clearly something more than we are equipped to handle. (i.e she could be a danger to herself or others in the future and seems to lack proper emotional response/remorse.)

My co-leader has a better relationship with the mom than I do, so she is going to read over the literature that the psychologist gave us and then talk with the mother. We're not going to tell her that we consulted a professional, but have a better understanding of how to present it to her.

But the bottom line is, if the parents choose to ignore this then the Brownie can't remain in our troop. It's too big of a liability when other children are involved.

The irony is that both my co-leader and I had the initial thought of "something's not right here" when our troop formed over 2 years ago. But neither of us could specifically say what it was. We now have 2.5 years history to look back on and it is all starting to make sense.

So my advise would be, if you get that inkling, don't dismiss it.

Yvonne

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Registered: 03-19-2003
Fri, 11-03-2006 - 8:02am
I hope the talk goes well.
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Registered: 04-26-2002
Fri, 11-03-2006 - 8:07am

Please, just be careful how you handle this. Girl Scouts is "For Every Girl" and I'm not sure if it would be your decision that she "can't" be a member of a troop. Just because someone told you, sight unseen, that she could be a danger to herself or others (which may be true or not) that you should be allowed to dismiss her. Just be careful how you go about it all and make sure that you have all the facts and try everything first. Maybe if she does get the services that she needs, then she can attend the meetings and events with a TSS (Theraputic Staff Support) person or whomever would be assigned to her case. Then if this is truly her problem, she can still enjoy the benefits of girl scouting under the watchful eye of a knowledgeable adult who can remove her from situations she gets herself into and deal with her behaviors in a way that will be more effective for her...and give you some peace of mind. When I was teaching kids with psychiatric and behavioral problems in a partial hospitalization setting, I saw many people who were so afraid of these kids because they just didn't have the information and support they needed and they were amazed at what these kids could do given the right resources and programs and adult support. If she really needs it, then I'm surprised the school hasn't picked up on it already.

Something in my heart tells me that this isn't a good situation right now, but it could turn into something really bad for all sides. I pray that it turns out good for all involved.

Good luck to you,
Jennifer

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Registered: 10-02-2006
Fri, 11-03-2006 - 9:40am

I totally agree -- and we would never ask someone to leave unless there was a serious problem that we couldn't handle. And I would never take the site-unseen diagnosis as gospel fact.

However, my co-leader and I have both had the feeling that something just isn't right and it seems to be getting worse over time. We've tried all the usual things and it doesn't seem to be making in difference.

The big unknown is how the parents will react and how proactive they choose to be. This Brownie attends a private school and they don't have a counselor on staff -- so I don't think it's something they see as a priority.

I'll let you know what happens!

Yvonne