Why is my Child Refusing to Work at School?

I walked out of the meeting at school, scratching my head and trying to make sense of what I had just heard. My son’s teachers sat around the long conference table, taking turns telling me how he was refusing to work, arguing, and struggling to independently start assignments, specifically science assignments. My child…the same child who didn’t not need to be asked twice to clean his room. The same child who loved science to the point of conducting his own experiments on a daily basis, just for fun. 

Were we talking about the same kid?

I went home and mental scolded myself for not being harder on him, having stricter rules. Maybe I should have had him work that Summer Skills Workbook last summer? My child was acting like an entitled bratty kid that didn’t expect to be held to the same standards as his peers, and I was mortified.

After an evening of wallowing in my own negative thoughts, I decided to step out of that mindset and do some research. I googled, “Defiant child school or learning disorder” and I came up with this website: https://childmind.org/article/disruptive-behavior-why-its-often-misdiagnosed/

The article states, “It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that a child who’s pushing or hitting or throwing tantrums is angry, defiant or hostile. But in many cases disruptive, even explosive behavior stems from anxiety or frustration that may not be apparent to parents or teachers.”

Maybe my child was not purposely being naughty, maybe there was a reason.

In our case, the education team and therapists discovered my child had a few issues causing his behavior – memory, anxiety, and a motor planning/writing issue. Once we figured the cause of his defiance and modified his work and the teacher’s approach, the school days had a lot less stress. His teacher and iep team incorporated visual checklists to help his memory, they broke writing assignments down into smaller segments and used an Expanding Expression Tool    to help get his thoughts down on paper, and they allowed him to use a scribe or keyboard to record his writing assignments.  All of these elements made a world of difference. His confidence in his work grew, he stopped hating school, and the teachers stopped calling me with behavior problems.

 

Will this work for your child? Honestly, every child is different, but if you get a call from a teacher stating your child’s behavior at school is disruptive, stop and consider if there is a cause to their actions before assuming they are defiant and naughty children. You are their best advocate.

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