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acceptable when he breaks a rule. You might assign an adult or an

older Scout to “shadow” a boy who often breaks rules. That person can redirect him by saying, “This is impor- tant, so quiet down,” explains Fisher, or, “Hey Marco, we gotta go this way. Come back here!” After a Scout has repeatedly heard

“Listen to Mr. Smith now,” Reid says, he might refocus when the “shadow” simply sits next to him or taps him on the shoulder. Even though a hyperactive

Scout tries your patience, he needs praise as much or more than other boys. So tell him when you notice his improvement, and look for his strengths. It’s also a good idea to sepa- rate two impulsive kids from each other, so they won’t disrupt the rest of the group. Because, as Cub Scouter Hector

X. Merced puts it, most ADHD kids have “all this energy inside them that needs to get out,” you can feed their hyperactivity by including plenty of activities that let them move. As the Cub Scout Handbook sug-

gests, Merced, a Tiger den leader in Springfield, Va., never lets his den sit for more than 20 minutes at a stretch. The last half-hour of every meeting is a game. “That has worked wonder- fully,” he says. “When you mix it up, they’re very interested.” Alternating active and passive

activities and promoting learning while moving will benefit the entire troop. So will using both verbal and nonverbal language. Reid will tell Scouts to nail boards

together, paint them, set them out to dry and then stencil them, but she also writes each step down and even charts them with pictures. While these methods will help an ADHD Scout in particular, at the same time they will also cater to the varied learn- ing styles of all Scouts. Surprises add stimulation, but con- sistency — like always meeting in the

same place — helps keep Scouts calm and focused. Announcing next week’s activities at the end of each meeting also lets Scouts know what to expect, as does emailing that information to parents.

Prepare Them for Life Scouting can be a lifesaver for boys with ADHD. Its active program and diversified, hands-on skills training can give kids the competence and con- fidence so essential to their well-being. Boys who don’t shine in school can

excel in archery, camping skills or pho- tography. Scouting gives them “a place to have something other than constant messages of failure,” Urion says. Merced’s son Xavier has made tre-

mendous gains in Cub Scouts. To help earn his Astronomy belt loop, Merced put the eight planets of the solar system on his bedroom ceiling, and Xavier learned them in order. “They were difficult, and he learned them all,” his dad says. “He felt very proud. His self-confidence was very low, and the Cub Scouts have given that back.” Programs such as National Youth Leadership Training can build the self- confidence of older Scouts, says Lisa Kirschner, of Stroudsburg, Pa. It taught her sons, Dagan and Mark, both of whom dealt with ADHD as children (they’re now 21 and 17), how a leader thinks and the meaning of leadership. Scouting also uniquely prepares

boys for life by providing a wide array of role models. Scout leaders range from carpenters and software entre- preneurs to firefighters and corporate executives, Urion points out. As a Boy Scout, “I realized you could be good in a lot of different ways in the world,” he says. “That’s a very important gift that Scouting brings.” ¿

KATHY SEAL, the co-author of Pressured Parents, Stressed-Out Kids (with Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D.), is a longtime con- tributor to national magazines on raising happy and successful kids.


In school, the boy with ADHD is often labeled the class clown, the troublemaker or simply “weird.” But Scout leaders can perform a terrific service by helping them make friends while teaching the whole group a lesson in tolerance. When Lisa Kirschner’s sons joined Cub Scouts,

the den leader not only corrected their behavior but also made clear to other boys that “We still like him, and he’s a good kid.” The results: “Three of the kids he started with in Tigers are his best friends even though they’re all in college,” says Kirschner, who both volunteers for Scouts as assis- tant Scoutmaster and crew Advisor and works as senior district executive for the Pocono District. Diversity policies also promote friendships with

kids with ADHD. Boys who learn to accept and understand Scouts from different ethnic and racial backgrounds can do the same for boys with special needs, Hector Merced explains. In his own den, parents of boys come from Vietnam, China, Peru, Puerto Rico and Thailand.


If a Scout has been diagnosed with ADHD, he might be taking medication. Most ADHD medica- tion is taken once a day. When it wears off, a child might get crabby and fidgety and want to get up and run around. To prevent this behavior, some parents may decide to give their sons half a pill before late afternoon or evening meetings. Parents might ask you to ensure their child

takes medication when away on a camping trip. (First ask parents to review the prescriptions section of the Guide to Safe Scouting, as well as the BSA’s requirements for annual health and medical records.) There are no strange side effects or extreme reactions to the typical medications for ADHD. Most are slightly dehydrating, and some decrease appetite. So before a long campout, ask the parents if they want you to pay extra attention to the Scout’s food and water intake.

LEARN MORE about how you can help Scouts with ADHD succeed at


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