To think that if you expect adult behaviour you need to treat the person as an adult?

(50 Posts)
OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 30-May-16 10:23:10

Not a huge deal, but got an email yesterday from Scouts regarding my younger son's volunteering with the beavers saying that his performance with them had been disappointing and he hadn't got sufficiently involved so that they weren't signing him off at the moment but instead giving him some weeks to show an improvement. We've been involved in Scouts since Beavers and I have nothing but praise and respect for the leaders who give up their time for the children.

Fair enough, I spoke to him and he hasn't been proactive so I explained that he should be going to the leaders and asking what they wanted him to do or seeing something that needed done and asking if they wanted him to do it. However, he also said that they didn't tell him what they wanted and he felt unsure and doesn't really know how to speak to or deal with small children.

He is also a teenager and can at times have that teenage "can't be bothered" look, I also said to him that that can be interpreted as not wanting to get involved and could put people of approaching him.

Anyway, I emailed back apologising and saying that he'd agreed to be more proactive and also said that I didn't want to make excuses but that he had felt shy and unsure and in teenagers that can manifest itself into a certain demeanor. None of the regular leaders at the beavers have teenagers yet.

Thinking about it later I realised that I hadn't asked my son if they'd spoken to him about it so I checked this morning and it turns out they haven't.

He's been going since last August (way over the 6 months he asked for, has missed one meeting due to the fact it was a hill climb and he'd only just finished his expedition the day before and his feet were blistered.

So, my feeling is that they have plenty of opportunity to make him aware of what they expect (i.e. mature behaviour in being pro active) but when he hasn't demonstrated this they come straight to his parents instead of him. AIBU to think they should have spoken to him first?

SharingMichelle Mon 30-May-16 10:28:58

I think you might be shooting the messenger here. The issue is that he hasn't been pulling his weight and engaging with the Beavers. I might be wrong, but your post reads a bit as though you're excusing his behavior ("that teenage can't be bothered look" and "none of them have teenagers yet") and focusing instead on the volunteers who are giving him another chance to show them what he can do.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 30-May-16 10:35:38

Yeah you are probably right. I definitely didn't word my email back like that, it was really just thinking that they should have spoken to him if they didn't think he was pulling his weight, not coming to me 9 months after he started.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 30-May-16 10:38:13

I guess I am both disappointed and angry with him. Whilst we do get a bit of "can't be bothered-ness" in the house from him. I've never had anything but glowing reports about him from outside organisations before so I suppose it just feels a bit odd and I feel that I've probably molly coddled him too much too.

Willberry Mon 30-May-16 10:44:33

I agree they should be addressing the issues with him first however it sounds like they have little experience in developing older children and whats done is done now. Maybe have this conversation with them too for future (or to confirm that they haven't addressed this with him themselves) I have students at the older end of the teenage bracket and the "teenaged can't be bothered look" would be addressed week 1!

claw12 Mon 30-May-16 10:45:25

Is it something he wants to do?

I'd have thought they would have given him some guidance through regular meetings with the person who supervises him. And some sort of description of his role and what they expect from him

whois Mon 30-May-16 10:49:39

Sounds like they have done a rubbish job of telling him what their expectations are and helping him get up to those.

Tiggeryoubastard Mon 30-May-16 10:54:10

At be they've tried to speak to him in a subtle way, or lead him but he's just not picked up on that. I have to say he doesn't sound interested in doing this, and that's just from your description. Surely by letting him help they've treated him as an adult and he's just not lived up to expectations. I don't think blaming them without knowing exactly how it's been handled is the way forward. You're not doing him any favours.

Shallishanti Mon 30-May-16 10:57:58

what makes you so sure they didn't speak to him?
they may have done, and he isn't telling you, or, just as likely, they spoke to him but so nicely that he didn't correctly understand what he should change
why is he volunteering, when you say they won't sign him off'?
FWIW I think it's quite hard for teenagers to know how to be when they are given these sorts of roles, they aren't really adults and the Beavers may see him as more one of them than one of the leaders.

Nataleejah Mon 30-May-16 11:01:11

It seems all very vague. What is exactly that he did not do or what he did wrong? The instructions should be clear.

I encountered this at workplaces. Always ask for precise instructions to avoid misunderstandings.

claw12 Mon 30-May-16 11:04:18

Maybe something like this would help

www.vai.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/Sample-Volunteer-Agreement.doc

Twowrongsdontmakearight Mon 30-May-16 11:16:38

I presume this is for D of E. When I did Rainbows the girls that volunteered were brilliant after the first couple of weeks of giggly shyness. They certainly DID know how to talk to the little girls and were excellent role models.

It's a bit late now, but if your DS isn't great with little ones he might have been better doing a different form of volunteering (my DS worked in a charity shop). For now though he might want to ask the leaders to be more specific as to what they want to see him doing, with practical suggestions, and then do it.

Liiinooo Mon 30-May-16 11:19:07

Perhaps your DS could send his own reply to the email? That might convince them of his maturity and commitment?

Twowrongsdontmakearight Mon 30-May-16 11:21:35

Being more specific myself, the volunteer girls took the lead in organising the games we had planned, sorted out teams and chivvied along reluctant players. They sat at a table each when we were doing crafts and helped those that were struggling. They also opted to help clear things away while we were singing songs (obviously far too embarrassing!). They were mini leaders.

acasualobserver Mon 30-May-16 11:22:31

Perhaps they have had experience of teenage volunteers who were able to act on their own initiative and your son appeared lacking by comparison?

nobilityobliges Mon 30-May-16 11:26:37

Completely agree that they should have spoken to him. Ridiculous emailing his mum. Makes me think they are poor communicators in general.

annandale Mon 30-May-16 11:27:11

I spent many years thinking that voluntary work had to be doing things that you hated (Protestant background). Took me years to realise that voluntary work should ideally involve doing things you like doing.

Ask him how he feels now, what he would like to do both about Scouts and about the DOE, and what he would do differently in another voluntary job.

Witchend Mon 30-May-16 11:42:42

Having has experiences of dealing with volunteer teenagers you get those who are naturally good, those who are good after support, those who are fine as long as there isn't another teen they can go and sit in the corner with and chat, and those that are a waste of space whatever you do to help them.
And the only ones Iget cross with: Ones who think they're brilliant but never do as you ask because they're busy doing their brilliant (but unhelpful) idea, they usually play heavy favourites too.

They're the only ones I would get cross with. All the others I can work with, although the hopeless even with heavy support, I'd probably suggest they would be better and happier doing something away from children.

The fact they have written to you implies that they've tried lots of ways at involving him and he either can't or won't comply. I suspect if he's been doing it 9months, which is perfectly long enough to have a relationship with the children, then it really isn't the volunteer role that's suited for him.

If you're thinking they should have treated him as an adult, he should also have been acting as an adult and asking "what would you like me to do?" "shall I go and wash those paint jars up?", "can I help that group?"

I suggest you talk through with him how he feels, but do not allow him to put the blame on the leaders. The leaders first responsibility is for the small children they are there for. Volunteer teens are to make their lives easier not harder.
So if he says "they don't tell me what to do". You respond "do you look for things to do and get on with them?"
He says "I started putting the tents,away and they said leave then until they're dry", you say "Did you ask where they wanted then to be put till dry" or "Did you ask what did need putting away and then do it?"

claw12 Mon 30-May-16 11:58:54

witchend volunteer teens are there to make it easier for adults!

I'm sure that's not the purpose of any award scheme!

WreckingBallsInsideMyHead Mon 30-May-16 12:10:02

The leaders are used to working with younger children and may not be sure how to develop a teenager

But your DS doesn't sound at all proactive and after 9 months should be confident with the children and with the leaders (certainly enough to say "I don't really know what I'm supposed to be doing, what would you like me to do?"

I have worked with brilliant teenage volunteers who were doing it because they wanted to not just to tick a box. They were an asset to the adult leaders and were given all the development opportunities we could give them. In fact; as this was a week camp and i was happy doing the "boring" stuff, I would encourage my colleagues to show the teenagers rather than me certain things! I was there to do a job and they were there to learn.

Why is your DS volunteering with Beavers? It doesn't sound like he really enjoys it.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 30-May-16 13:50:31

Sorry ben out for lunch, I'll try to address most points in one go!

Yes it's for Duke of Edinburgh. He loves Scouts and has been in them continuously since he was 5 & 3/4. He needed to pick a volunteer element and he's always wanted to be a young leader. They allocated him to the Beavers though he himself wanted the Scouts. They don't tend to allow them to volunteer in the Scout age group for Bronze given that they've usually only just left.. They definitely haven't spoken to him that he is aware of as he doesn't lie and had no need to start. I agree though that they may have done in a subtle manner that he hasn't picked up on.

I was aware he wasn't particularly enjoying it but I didn't really pursue why though in retrospect I should have and I also should have made him aware that he should be asking. We all lead busy lives but I should have made time. My elder DS does his volunteering with the Scout age group but did the Beavers before DS2. He has social anxiety and is very shy (borderline aspergers) but he seemed to be fine and they were very happy with him. I think it was not exactly the same group of leaders though. One of the leaders at that time was a neighbour who knew DS1 very well and I think he just gave him instructions on what he wanted him to do.

I'm not blaming the leaders, I just think that expectations weren't set out from either side and he could definitely have been more proactive. He is shy and we don't mix with young children. I also don't think you can compare how teenage girls behave with teenage boys though, especially where you have more than one teenage girl at a time.

I guess my point was that whilst I am not excusing the fact that he doesn't seem to have engaged and clearly should have, that expectation of behaviour is an expectation of maturity and given that expectation then it should have been him they contacted initially, not us.

Every report I've had from school describes him as a joy to teach, I've never had any negative feedback about him before. His other "supervisors" have signed him off with positive comments. Even at home when asked to do something he will reply "yeah sure", I'd qualify that by saying it doesn't always get done, he is 14 not a saint!

Something just hasn't worked here and it's in his court to do something about it, it was really just the discrepancy about the contacting me that I was a bit confused at, it's really sending a mixed message.

Anyway, I have a good relationship with the troupe still via the Scout leader and the overall leader and I really don't want to sour that. I do appreciate what they do and none of us get it right all the time.

Thank you for all your comments, I'll just have another read through to see if I've missed any important points.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 30-May-16 14:02:35

The other thing that I think affects things is that he is now over 6 foot tall and could easily buy a drink in a pub so I think it's easy to forget sometimes that he is only 14. There are grown adults (including me) that would be wary of (at times) nearly 50 excited 6 and 7 year olds!

I am aware that he is in the wrong here and needs to slap on a game face and ask what they'd like him to do and be a help and support, I'll give him another pep talk before he goes. However useless they feel he is, he has made the effort to turn up every week for 9 months including camps and outside activities - even if maybe they'd rather he hadn't bothered. I think then threatening to not sign him off unless he shows more effort is a poor way to go about things if the haven't raised it with him previously. I think I'd rather try and catch one of the leaders face to face as I'm also aware that communicating via email doesn't always come across the way it was intended.

I think this has probably put him off being a young leader and possibly from doing his Silver dofe.

IloveJudgeJudy Mon 30-May-16 14:31:37

I also have a DS who has done his volunteering with Beavers. He had no problem at all getting signed off. I did always ask him what had happened each week and he was involved in the planning and had the phone numbers of the various leaders to help him get involved.

Like you, I think it's outrageous that they've allowed him to volunteer all these months, with no information or help and now won't sign him off. If they didn't like him or the way he is, they should either have told him or not allowed him to continue. I would speak to them again about them not signing him off and ask them for specific details. It's really not on to use people like that!

I hope you have some joy. Please let us know how he/you get on.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 30-May-16 14:42:42

Thanks ilove. I am sure that they will sign him off if he shows a bit more effort up until the summer, but i am just really disappointed that they didn't raise this sooner either with him directly or with us.

I don't think they will see it that they've used him as they clearly don't think he has contributed sad

They don't contact him directly with meeting details or anything, they (sometimes) email me but we don't always get them. A few weeks ago he turned up at the hall to find no-one there, they were doing an activity by the river and we didn't know, luckily (or unluckily?) a leader was driving past and saw him so told him where they were. This was the week after the only week he hadn't been (blistered feet and planned hill walk) so he hadn't heard an announcement or anything either.

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 30-May-16 14:46:13

I also said to DS that if he felt he couldn't commit and be more proactive up until the summer, his only other option is to chalk it up to experience and find a different placement and start again.

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