When ADD Kids "Don't Care"


My seven-year-old makes careless mistakes and doesn’t finish her homework. When we speak about this, she says she doesn’t care about school. I don’t want to put too much pressure on her, but I know she could do better.


Your daughter’s “not caring” is her way of protecting herself. If you don’t care or don’t try, that, rather than your level of intelligence, is the reason for your failure.

Techniques designed to increase attention to detail (proofreading, re-reading and underlining directions) can help with careless mistakes, but I suspect she will have little motivation to use these tools unless she understands her attention deficit hyperactivity (ADD/ADHD) better. Putting on the Brakes, which I cowrote with Judith Stern, explains ADHD and offers kid-friendly strategies to take control of schoolwork.

Finally, no matter how hard your daughter tries, she may be able to deal with problems caused by ADHD symptoms on her own for only a short time. You didn’t mention medication, but you should talk with your pediatrician about it.

Patricia Quinn, M.D., is a developmental pediatrician in the Washington, D.C. area. A graduate of the Georgetown University Medical School, Quinn specializes in child development and psychopharmacology. Cofounder and director of the Center for Girls and Women with ADHD, she is the author of Putting on the Brakes: A Young People’s Guide to Understanding Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Attention, Girls!: A Guide to Learn All About Your AD/HD.
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