Education and Counseling for Individuals Affected by Oppositional Defiant Disorder and ADHD

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Poor Academic Performance - Part 1


Thanks so much for your reply. I was thinking of calling you today. Your 2 assumptions are 100% correct.

The Xbox is new in our home (long story of resistance by the parents, son earned the money to purchase it). The privilege will be tied at least in part to grades (or at least effort in school) next year. By the time the XBox arrived in our home, the grades were too far gone to be salvaged for this year. Looking back, we should have insisted, as you suggest, that he at least spend time on school work, rather than insisting that he bring his grades up - which was utterly futile and only added fuel to the fire. As it stands now, he is limited to 1 hour/day on school days and 2 hours/day on non-school days, and chores must be done first. His daily chores are to walk his dog and wash up the evening dinner dishes (we have no dishwasher). This part is working OK. In total he spends about 45 minutes per day on these chores. So in that sense, he is earning his Xbox privilege. However, he has had those two chores for several years, so there is not a clear connection between them and the Xbox. They are simply his chores. They're expected and they're done. We just don't have any sort of handle on the school situation. He has an IQ of 146 and scored a 32 on the ACT as a sophomore, but doesn't give a hang about school. It's all "beneath him". Since he is already doing chores (and he works 10-15 hours/week as a cook at Pizza Hut), does that mean we should "back off" and not be so wound up about his attitude toward school?

[Also, it may be helpful to know that he has a "borderline" diagnosis of ADD and of ODD. His executive function skills are very poor and he also previously an LD label for dysgraphia (we think we shouldn't have allowed that to be de-classified.]

Thank you ever so much for all you do to help parents make it through the turbulent teen years.




Hi C.,

Re: Since he is already doing chores (and he works 10-15 hours/week as a cook at Pizza Hut), does that mean we should "back off" and not be so wound up about his attitude toward school?

Absolutely. Let go of ownership of your son’s poor academic performance. As long as you take responsibility for it – he won’t! Conversely, the less responsibility you take, the more he will take.

As far as your job goes, you want to do the following:

1. Let him know that his schoolwork is HIS job and that you are not going to take responsibility for it any longer.

2. If teachers attempt to recruit you as a co-teacher, tell them to call you if the issue is behavioral, otherwise it’s his problem now.

3. Ask to see report cards, but simply to show your son that you are interested in is school life – not to reprimand or take back ownership.

4. Continue to make periodic statements such as “you’ve got what it takes” …“I know you’re more than capable” …etc.


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