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Baloo's Bugle

September 2006 Cub Scout Roundtable Issue

Volume 13, Issue 2
October 2006 Theme

Theme: Cub Scout Shipbuilders
Webelos: Citizen & Showman
Tiger Cub


Remember for your new leaders – Fast Start training and Youth Protection training is available on-line -

Fast Start training http://www.scouting.org/cubscouts/faststart/

Youth Protection Online http://www.scouting.org/pubs/ypt/ypt.jsp

Self Esteem

Bill Smith, the Roundtable Guy

"The greatest gift you can give your child is good self esteem!"

This theme comes up again and again in books about raising children. It caught my eye in the opening chapter of the Cub Scout Leader Book some years ago and has been an important part of my Scouting life ever since.

Just how do we give this gift? How do we make it or get it? How do we gift-wrap it?

Self esteem is a boy’s attitude or belief about himself. If he has good self esteem, he respects himself. He has confidence and expects success from life. He is less likely to misbehave or – as he matures – less likely to rely on alcohol or drugs. It starts with being accepted, feeling welcome and becoming part of a group. Cub Scouting should do this, not only with ritual and ceremony, but also with our genuine and heartfelt love and respect.

It grows with wearing the uniform, the wearing the badges of rank and achievement. We affect a boy’s image about himself at every stage in our advancement process. When a parent takes the time to work with him on a requirement or elective, when it is signed off in his book, when the book is checked off at the den meeting and another icon is filled in on the advancement chart or another bauble strung on the den doodle. In each of these acts, we are telling him that he is a super neat person and we are all glad that he is here with us.

The biggest boost however, is when he and his personal Akela are called up at the pack extravaganza and are presented the badge in a typical Sean Scott ceremony replete with all the flashing lights, explosions, cheers, pomp and panoply that such an event deserves.

What? You aren’t familiar with a Sean Scott Ceremony? You must go to: http://scouting.argentive.com/index.shtml
And check out his presentations and handouts.

Scouting, at every level, works strictly on positive feedback. Positive feedback builds self esteem. Be generous with recognition and praise for any accomplishment. In his book How To Behave So Your Children Will, Too, psychologist Sal Severe makes the point that children believe what adults tell them about themselves. If you tell them they are competent, that they can do things and are helpful, then they become motivated to live up to your expectations. If you continually criticize and berate a child, you give him the excuse to fail and misbehave.

Involving the parents is essential for Cub Scouting to work. As a Cubmaster, my contact with each Cub Scout lasted only seconds each month. A den leader or den chief can devote more time to each boy but it still is measures only a few minutes a week. Parents, on the other hand, spend a lot of time with him and have the opportunity to either build a boy’s self confidence or to totally undermine everything we are trying to do with continual criticism, put downs and faultfinding. Unless the parents are on your side, it will be up hill all the way for you and your fellow leaders. And that’s a drag.

The Cub Scout Advancement program follows the school grade levels ….. to build self-esteem, self-awareness and a sense of citizenship and good sportsmanship. Parental involvement is crucial to achieve the advancement of the Scouts and responsibility for advancement in rank rests with the parents; verification and assistance of the Den Leader is secondary.
                              Atlanta Area Council website

There is a wonderful little reminder about that in Parent's Little Book of Wisdom by Buck Tilton and Melissa Gray:

There are lots of other ways we can build a boy’s sense of how competent and valuable he his. Just recognizing him and greeting him by name helps. His name on the den chart, den doodle and the pack advancement ladder shows that we love him and respect him. Participating in pack meeting presentations, skits and ceremonies all help build confidence and self worth. Getting Boy’s Life mailed to him is a big deal.

Nothing tells your child you care more than choosing to be with him.

It takes a bit of concentration and discipline on our part to remember this in the midst of putting on good pack and den meetings. I know that most of you are much better leaders than I was, but I would guess that even the best Cubmaster or den leader will sometimes be distracted in heat of battle. I particularly like the rule of balancing each negative remark like: DON’T; THAT’S WRONG; NOW-WHAT DID YOU DO? with at least four positive statements like: I KNEW YOU COULD DO IT; THAT’S REALLY GOOD; YOU ARE THE BEST!

Boys seem to be naturally competitive. They like to test themselves and others in a variety of ways. Whether it’s a game of tag, a race like last-one-in-the-pool , a game of chess or the latest Nintendo, boys I have observed enjoy the challenge of a good contest. Letting boys compete is a natural way for them to try to do their best. When left to their own devices, a group of boys will spontaneously start into some game that often tests some physical or mental ability. Their rules are often ritualized and are applied surprisingly fairly.

We adults often mess things up by making a big fuss about who wins. Generally the boys don’t make a big thing about who wins or who loses. Once the contest is over, it’s over. A new game is started, a different skill or knowledge tested, a new chance to do his best. On the other hand, we adults like to recognize the winners with some prize or hullabaloo. Each time we exalt a winner, we also stigmatize the losers. This does nothing to raise the self esteem of those boys. The only thing worse than losing is having your nose rubbed in it.

It is best we Cub Scout leaders remember that in our games, contests and especially our derbies that we build self esteem by recognizing individual achievement and not who did it better than someone else. Probably the best reference on how to handle such activities is in Bernie DeKoven’s book The Well-Played Game, or on his website: http://deepfun.com/

Be sure to check out Bill’s “Unofficial Roundtable Site”


His name for it, not mine.  You will find his E-mail address there if you wish to contact him

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