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WHAT WOULD YOU DO? Disordered Eating

Ideas from the field: Moving toward satisfactory solutions.

A Scout in Scouter B.P.’s troop has such poor nutrition that the boy has collapsed during numerous activ- ities. B.P. is looking for ways to help the Scout’s parents under- stand the seriousness of this problem.

GIVE HIM STRUCTURE Part C of the BSA medical form should be completed for anything that is “strenuous and demanding.” If the Scout is in as poor a condition as you believe, he should not be able to get this approval from his physician. Also, remind him that a Scout is supposed to keep himself physically strong. This is a great way to get him started on Personal Fitness merit badge. His personal improvement not only results


Our troop regularly hikes and camps each month. Recently, we‘ve had problems with a couple of the boys not being able to stay with the main group. How can we help these kids without discouraging them or hurting their feelings?


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in his improved health but also an earned Eagle-required merit badge. And it helps give him structure in getting healthy when he might not otherwise have support. In addition, let him know that his issue is impacting the other Scouts and that, if it happens again, you will have to call EMS to transport him to the hospital. Make sure you explain that this is not a punishment. He needs to understand you care about him and that this is the most appropriate action. Be sure to speak about your concerns with his parents so they are aware of the situation.

Committee Member A.S. LAKE HIAWATHA, N.J.

DIALOGUE, NOT DIRECTIVES Have a discussion with the parents. Start with the question, “Is there anything we need to know about Johnny’s diet that affects

his participation?” Don’t use the directive, “Johnny can’t participate unless his diet improves.” The question invites dialogue; the directive invites defensiveness. It’s possible that these

parents have already suf- fered through all the tears and fights associated with trying to improve the young man’s diet. Don’t assume the parents are “enabling” unless you have actual knowledge of everything surrounding this young man. Many conditions, including autism spectrum disorders, can cause young men to be problem (not picky) eaters. Often, the taste, smells, or textures of food are simply intolerable to them.


INVITE AN EXPERT The statement “such poor nutrition” seems vague to me. Does he have a hypoglycemia condition? Is he undiagnosed with diabetes? Most kids who are picky eaters will get hungry and eventually eat what is available. An average child will not let himself go until he passes out.

Find a nutritionist or dia-

betes educator to come talk to the troop about healthy eating and signs of diabetes and other eating-related issues, inviting the parents to stay. I am dia- betic, and it sounds to me as if there may be more going on here than meets the eye.


WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON? Is this a financial issue that the family is ashamed to admit? Were/are the parents obese and fear the same for their son? If it is simply a matter of poor nutrition, two leaders together need to approach the parents and explain the sever- ity of the situation. We had a Scout who

refused to eat many items (due to stubbornness), and he eventually transferred to a troop with more members and therefore more options. It’s our objective to prepare these young men for dealing with situations that they’ll encounter in the real world. Unfortunately, not all of them will see each lesson as a positive one.

Committee Chair N.M. CASSELBERRY, FLA.


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