My son is losing hope in school - CHADD's ADHD Pare...

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My son is losing hope in school


Lately my son has lost interest in school. He will say that he feels sick or simply is not going to school the following day. He has no interest in doing his homework, will lie about not having homework or say it has already been completed. When I check the work, everything is wrong. His classwork appears half completed. I'm not sure how he is getting along in the classroom - minimal or no notes, incomplete class assignments, etc. He seems to be struggling in all subjects, but doing poorly in Math and Language Arts. He has an IEP, however the supports do not seem to be enough. I fear that my son is going to wind up dropping out of school or just giving up. His self-esteem seems to have gone. It hurts to see him struggle so badly and I know he feels he is worthless and insufficient compared to his classmates. I was up most of the night and do not have any appetite worrying about his school troubles and the way he must feel to be so different.

15 Replies

So sorry he is struggling! We were there in 6th grade. What worked for us is ( of course medication, counseling) but giving him a balance of activities he loves outside of school. He does sports and sometimes scooter/bike at local parks. We also allow him to go on his own to a drop in basketball 2 hours. This really is a way to balance out his life. He could not be successful in school if he doesn't have these carrots. It really helped us to understand the fact that many children with ADHD see the world as effort/reward. How much effort do I need to do and is the reward big enough (in their mind)

You could also call an IEP meeting and get a check inside school on things like homework and classwork, I am sure having that support would really help him and it would not be you.

Big hug for the stress!

Hello, he has been on Ritalin on school days. Some days I forget to give it to him and I think it's when he has the most difficulty. Tomorrow I am signing him up for basketball which he enjoys. We really cannot have activities during the week due to his homework load. I am wiped out most days from being a single working mom. I have to keep the effort/reward thing on my mind. I scheduled an IEP meeting in 2 weeks. This will be the 3rd IEP meeting this school year - quite frustrating......

My son is only second grade, and I don't have any great suggestions. I just wanted to send huge hugs and support. It's so hard to every day take on the world on behalf of your kid (and get time off from work to do so); to every day be his cheerleader. It's hard to stay positive (at least for me). It's overwhelming. Between work, housework and parenting there is zero time to recharge - I'm chronically burned out and it makes my patience thin. It's good to hear from parents on this site who understand what it's like. Hang in there - we are all in it together. You are going a great job for your son - he is lucky to have you <3

Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement!! I agree with you it is overwhelming and there is little time to re-charge. I have burn out frequently too. All of last week I purposely did something nice for myself. It really made a difference in the way I feel. I found I had a more positive outlook on things also. Just hoping I can make time for myself each day going forward. I hope you are able to get a break for yourself. Hugs!

This sounds like my daughter when she was in high school and my grandson is having some of the same problems. Anxiety and depression are big factors. We did and are doing a combination of things medication, counseling, mentoring at school, and an IEP in school.

I know what you mean about losing sleep I did it with her and now I'm doing that with him. Hang in there and keep looking for support in any way you can. I am pushing my grandson's school to get more involved in not letting him drop into a black hole.

Janice_H in reply to anirush

He is on medication and has an IEP but I don't feel it is effective. Today I will set him up with the school guidance counselor. I have tried counseling but am not able to keep taking off work for the 1 hour sessions once a week. Wish there was a better way. Thanks for your support

Since it is impacting his school ask for counseling to be at school.

My son was diagnosed with ADHD and he is now 32 and is still having problems that haunt him to this day. Some time ago, I wrote and illustrated a book that presented ADHD from the child's point of view to give parents insite into what the child is going through and how they see the world. Having a B.A. in Psychology and personally experienced parenting a special needs child, I wanted to help other parents in this situation. It is called "I have A.D.D. and I'm Proud to Be Me." My name is Wendy Kirkpatrick. The book can be purchased on I feel for your and hope my book offers some help to you and your family.

I purchased and read your book yesterday. Many parts of the book made me cry because my son has gone through much of the things you wrote about. It broke my heart that children with ADHD carry so much weight on their shoulders and feel so rejected by others. Thank you for the recommended read.

I just ordered the book and look forward to reading. Thanks so much for sharing!

Have you considered tutors at home for him? Have you considered sitting in at school and observing how he is being taught, what the atmosphere is like, his social interaction and how teachers treat him? These things might be helpful.

Janice_H in reply to jolinn

He has had 3 different tutors. They were not beneficial as he has a lot of executive function deficits - unable to retain information, slow processing, inattentiveness. The teachers will be on their P's and Qs if I am sitting inside the classroom. Thankfully my son shares what goes on in the classroom. This is the only way I really know what happens there.

How is his social network at school? He may be having peer/friend problems, or at least benefit a lot by having some more social support. Some schools have some sort of peer-to-peer programs, particularly during lunch time, to help kids that are struggling socially. Maybe this is another area to explore, in addition to "just" the school work?

You may also want to look in to adjusting his medication. If he's not even able to work with the tutors one-on-one, there may be some medication changes that could help him focus enough to get back on track with some of the academics. I highly recommend a child psychiatrist if you can at all find one - they're harder to get appointments with than something like a "normal" doctor, but they generally do a much better job of being able to "tweak" meds until they're really working for what the kid needs.

Hi JerzGirl, he has many friends in school and has never had difficulty making and keeping friends. He currently has a child psychiatrist that is very good and sees him regularly. This is actually his 6th medication. The Ritalin works very well with his attention and focus.

Does he have a place to shine? Everyone is good at something, esp we ADDers. I’d place emphasis on that activity or activities. Two things I emphasize to my son: 1) School offers many subjects, because everyone likes something different. He hates art, but his friends like it. He hyperfocuses on things he dislikes and gets a head of steam up. I tell him, you just have to get through that subject, and move on to what you do like. Enjoy that time with friends. I also stress basic competence as a goal. ADDers tend see things in black n white: either I excel or I fail. And such perfectionism! My son astonishes me with his crippling fear of failure. It is hardwired in. His father and I have always—always—stressed effort over performance. So, I take this attitude: get basic competence. You need to try to draw. But you do not have to be any good at it. If math is a bummer, I’d say, just try to grasp the subject as best you can. You don’t have to be a mathematician. I have dyscalculia—want to talk about bad math skills. I have dyslexia for numbers (it’s common with ADD btw—worth considering if your son has it). That’s why I ask if he gets extra time and encouragement at what he’s really good at. A rising tide lifts all boats. Confidence begets confidence. And here’s the key: the confidence to be content with your absolute best, whether it gets the A or not.

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