ADHD Parents Together
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New here. Mom of 15 y/o boy. Help with school

My ADHD son refuses to study or do homework. He is in honors classes that require 20 minutes per night of reading notes/watching videos. But he doesn't do that.

First quarter grades just posted and he failed his Sign Language class but eked out C's and B's (and one A!) in the others. Spends lots of time playing games on phone. Refuses to go in for extra help (two weeks in a row, claimed to be sick and stayed home from school just to avoid the extra help session). We've tried the route of taking the phone and electronics; that did not help.

Is now home from school, in bed. I have decided to not get angry, since that is not helpful anyway. Appreciate any advice. Thanks!

6 Replies


I have been down this road and what is worth considering is this: Sometimes the best way for kids to learn is "the hard way". As hard as it is for us parents to step back and let "natural consequences" happen, it's so important because in order for him to want to change what he is doing, he needs to see that the way he's doing things is not giving him the results he wants. The motivation to change has to come from inside of himself.

In terms of learning the hard way, there are probably a lot of "natural consequences" that will happen if he continues down this road and each will be hard for you to watch, but it's so important that you do, so he can learn the lessons he needs to learn as an adult. For example, maybe if he keeps doing what he's doing (or not doing what he should be), he will get kicked out of honors classes, or get in trouble for missing school (truancy), or maybe he'll have to go to summer school. Or maybe he won't be able to get his drivers license because his grade point average is not good enough to get an insurance discount, or maybe you decide that you will only pay for his phone if he has a certain grade point average, or maybe he won't haven enough credits to be able to graduate with his peers, or maybe he can't go on vacation with the family because he has already missed too many days at school. Etc. etc. None of these are things we parents want to see happen, in my experience with my son and with the kids of my coaching clients, sometimes that is the only way he is going to learn and grow and be prepared for the time when you are not around.

I believe he will eventually get there (my son did)--but on his own time and in his own way. In the meantime, the best thing you can do is take care of yourself emotionally, and do what you can to keep your relationship with him strong. (You don't have to like his decisions, but it's really important that he feels like you still like him.)

Hope this helps!

Joyce Mabe, parenting coach, website:


Is he on any medication? My grandson's psychiatrist says the teen years are the worst - growth spurts, hormones.

His grades are actually quite good from my viewpoint. My grandson is also in an honors program in middle school and you just hate to see them mess up their future.

MY grandson's mother had a lot of trouble with depression and would just not get out of bed. Luckily we worked a lot with the school counselor and teachers and would somehow pull it together before grading periods. Now I see him doing the same thing. We just switched meds because he did not seem to care about anything but lots of anger, too.


I'm new here too. This is my son. I'm feeling really lost and extremely frustrated, angry, sad.

He's 14, bright. Doesn't want to do homework, and when he does, doesn't hand it in. I keep getting messaged from the (very supportive private) school who are trying to help him with keeping up. He's been struggling with school since 5th grade, because of the ADHD. He loves playing online computer games, where he excels directing others to do things. He loves being in charge, and gets a lot of positive reinforcement from the game's successes.

For a few reasons, he does not take medication (refuses, hides, pretends to swallow etc etc), so he's med free. Partly this is because of his extreme dislike of swallowing tablets, but mostly because the ADHD med he was on on for 2-3 years made him like a zombie, unable to make friends, totally no spontaneity or humor; his growing slowed down and he had no appetite. So now he says he will try to take a non-stimulant, but can't actually bring himself to do it. He has been in therapy for about 2 years now, and his ability to describe things is improving, but his introversion doesn't make this easy!

From what I can intuit, he is extremely sensitive; when he gets a negative reaction/emotion to something he immediately makes a bad association and avoids talking about it, or doing it (or anything like it) again.

Like your son, he's bright, funny, caring. I have no idea how to help him. I read Richard Lavoie The Motivation Breakthrough book, and that helped me understand the "motivation", but I have no idea how to help.

I do understand the natural consequences and do agree. However, I wonder about what interventions I can do to help him deal with the emotional issues I suspect are making him avoidant and/or feel more positive towards school.

1 like

Oh Connie, I'm new to this website so reading old chats. I have a 12 year old who is also very bright and I worry so much about these next years. All his friends have phones. I'm old school and would love to live in a world with no cell phones or video games. My son has no true friends but loves his ps4. Reading what you said about your son being in charge and directing others - so true! My son is in his element and I can see the addiction growing. I just hate the idea of how having a cell phone is going to take control of him.

He has recently turned a corner where he doesn't talk about his day at school or anything with me...breaks my heart. When he was with "friends" at a movie theater and then admitted to me that they de-pantsed him outside the theater afterwards he just kept saying its ok and he can handle it. Ugh. Couldn't tell the parents - my son would get it even more when he went back to school. This ADHD hits every aspect of a person/family. My son should be so much taller and I am certain the meds he's been on for 3 years have affected his growing. Makes me sick. But I'm not equipped well enough to push through without them since I have bipolar myself.

I think all of us parents of ADHD kids are heartsick about the emotional turmoil our kids go thru with this affliction. What their life would be, the joy they'd be able to feel, the friends they would have if they didn't have this.

I don't have any advice or good tips for you. Just sharing.


Ladysoc......My sons are 14 and 12. Both are diagnosed with ADHD. The oldest one when he was not yet 2 years old. Its been a crazy ride. Every day has been a challenges, difficult, stressful...Everything from a shower, to homework, to eating dinner, to using manners, you name it. I would love to have some one to share some frustration with. I am a single mother and the boys see their father four days a month in which time they call and text me constantly. He has no idea how to handle them and in turn I have no real life. Let me know if you would like to share some ideas and suggestions with each other. Never know. It may help. It should would help me not feel so alone.


Hi my son is 14 years old. Had a very difficult year last year. By joining this group and listening to suggestions it helped me alot. . Over the summer we brought my son for therapy every week. It was an opportunity for him to speak to someone without us. It helped alot. We also have a tutor that comes to the house and works one on one and helps motivate him to get do better. Another thing g we just started was we signed him up for CrossFit for youth. He goes 3 times a week and he loves it. A few of these changes that we made have been very helpful for my son. He also takes medicine. Good luck


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