If Your ADD/ADHD Tween Is Acting Up at School...
Understand what motivates your child. Elementary school students strive to get good grades, in part, to please their parents and teachers. But by middle school, the primary goal of most tweens is to be accepted as one of the gang. Pleasing grownups doesn’t matter so much anymore.
Let teachers know that your child may refuse accommodations because they make her feel different. Ask if she could get help in a less obvious way. For example, instead of being pulled out of class to see a tutor or speech therapist, she might meet with the tutor or therapist at home.
Don’t be the disciplinarian. Meet with the teachers at the start of the year to suggest alternative consequences for missed assignments, and so on. Maybe the teacher could require your child to spend lunch period in the classroom and do his work then -- or to stay after school to do the work. After that, don’t get involved unless you feel that the school’s approach has been inappropriate. After all, you’ve probably found that battles over schoolwork only cause your child to resent you -- and the work still doesn’t get done. If you and your child aren’t adversaries, the lines of communication will stay open.
Pay less attention to grades. It’s not easy to watch a child struggle in school --especially one who had been doing well. But criticizing his academic performance will only intensify the stress your family is under. And, before high school, grades are less important than acquiring solid study skills.
Hire a teen tutor. Your child may be more likely to accept academic help from an older student than from you or a professional tutor. If your child needs help, find an intelligent high school student (of the same sex) who is willing, for a few dollars, to come over after school to see that homework gets done and that your child understands the material.
ManageADD/ADHD medication at school discreetly -- your child should be allowed to end her lunchtime visits to the school nurse. Use an eight- or 12-hour dose of the stimulant to cover the entire school day.
Continue to make yourself available in the evenings, in case your child asks you for assistance. But don’t push him to accept help from you.