Help! My Child with ADHD is Failing School. What Should I do?
Every parent wishes for their child to succeed in school. But when their child is struggling academically, parents often don’t know what to do. Especially for children with ADHD, failing grades is a common problem parents come to us with.
“Is it me?” Parents often wonder. “Do I need to be more strict?” “Do I need to hire a tutor?” Even with the best intentions, parents may exacerbate the situation because they don’t have an understanding of why this is happening in the first place.
First, let’s discuss why the traditional classroom creates the “perfect storm” for children with ADHD:
Children with ADHD struggle with the ability to focus and sit still for prolonged periods of time.
This isn’t necessarily by choice; this is how they are wired. In a typical classroom of 30+ students and one teacher, rules and following directions are necessary to keep order and to get through the lesson plans. Children with ADHD may get fidgety simply because it’s hard for them to sit and they have excess energy. In situations like these, teachers often label the child as “disruptive” and “problematic.”
Moreover, in a classroom, there are dozens, if not hundreds of distractions, instructions and directives happening on multiple fronts. Children with ADHD get mentally overloaded which makes it difficult for them to focus and follow directions. Okay, so what does this have to do with bad grades?
Overstimulation makes it difficult for a child with ADHD to do all the tasks required to excel in their classes:
Write down notes
Remember to do their homework assignment
Focus when taking a test
Pay attention to the lesson
Children with ADHD are trying to focus and stay on task while simultaneously sitting quietly, paying attention to what the teacher is saying, ignoring his classmate Billy who is whispering something to his neighbor, while also not getting distracted by the birds chirping outside the window. Whew! That’s a lot to focus on!
Parents and teachers often misinterpret symptoms of ADHD (forgetfulness, lack of focus, inability to follow directions etc.) for lack of motivation which leads us to our second point: children with ADHD are not lazy or stupid.
Children with ADHD think and learn differently than their non-ADHD classmates. The traditional classroom setting is not conducive to their strengths or how they learn best.
What we find is children with ADHD are often punished for not being able to conform to traditional classroom teaching styles. Blaming and disciplining a child who is struggling in school can cause lifelong emotional and psychological damage.
Children with ADHD often internalize labels adults place on them (“lazy,” “stupid,” “unmotivated,” “not good at school.”). This is extremely damaging to a child and severely limits their potential.
As a parent, you have the power to advocate for your child. Below we have listed some steps you can take to create a positive learning environment that fits your child’s unique needs:
Educate yourself on how ADHD affects children in school settings. There are plenty of books and articles online that you can find. One that we recommend is 8 Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD by Cindy Goldrich.
Work with your child’s school/teacher to see what solutions or accommodations may be available to your child.
Look into local community services/tutoring services.
Know your legal rights for your child. Some accommodations may be covered under the American Disabilities Act.
Academic problems are a common symptom of ADHD, but there are many remedies and options available. If you are still feeling overwhelmed and are not sure where to start, we encourage you to contact us. At GUTS OC, Inc., we specialize in working with families with a child or young adult who is struggling with ADHD.
Our team includes a therapist, brain stimulation specialist, clinical psychologist and a personal chef. Together, we combine the latest technology and mental health services as a wraparound service to help our patients get long term results faster.
About GUTS OC:
We combine mental health services and state-of-the-art technology to help our patients obtain long-term results faster. Our specialties include therapy, micro current neurofeedback and life coaching. Our evidence-based approach has helped thousands of individuals, couples and families who have sought our help over the past 22 years. Our trained specialists are committed to educating & empowering our patients with the skills and mindset to live successful, happy lives.
GUTS OC is based in Tustin, CA but provides services to all of Orange County through in-person sessions and/or virtual therapy sessions via phone, chat or video.