Struggling at School
Tom was seen as very smart and so the expectation was that Tom needed to learn to take responsibility for himself. He was expected to keep track of his assignments, and turn in his homework. Even when Tom did some of his homework, he often didn’t turn it in. Tom’s parents tried to discipline him and would take away his electronics because of his poor grades. He would be grounded and not allowed to leave the house after he got home from school until he could raise his grades. His parents would also scold him almost daily and let him know how frustrated they were with him. They knew Tom was smart enough and could do the work if he wasn’t so “lazy”. Tom said he would do better, but nothing changed.
He Hated School
In talking with Tom, he said he hated school, but could not explain why he wouldn’t or couldn’t do his homework. He said he didn’t like two of his teachers, and had a very hard time being in those classes, gym and math. He did have a couple friends that he had lunch with, but otherwise, he spent most of his free time by himself, reading. He actually didn’t mind that. He said it was a good escape for him, and he could avoid socializing.
Difficulty With Overwhelm and Organization
So Tom, his parents and I talked about how hard it was for him to cope with the two teachers. He would just feel overwhelmed and shut down in those classes. He worried about those classes all the time, and that it made him not want to go to school at all. He also had trouble with organization; keeping track of his assignments, and remembering to turn in his homework. Tom described that he felt overwhelmed with all the work he had and would just avoid it.
Parents Collaborated With the School
Tom’s parents set up an I.E.P. meeting at school (with his teachers and administrators). Fortunately, the school was very supportive. Tom’s parents described the struggles Tom was having. They asked for a change in his program from those two classes that were so stressful for him. The school agreed to change his gym class to a bowling elective, which he loved. Tom was also allowed to meet in a resource room for an independent study math class. The resource teacher also met with him daily to go over his assignments and made sure his homework got turned in. The I.E.P. team also agreed to a modification and reduction of his homework to just was is essential for him to get his diploma.
Plans that Supported Him at Home
Tom’s parents stopped scolding and punishing him, and instead helped Tom to structure his time. They set up a schedule for when to do his homework, when to take breaks, and then when he was finished he could use his phone. Tom loved his phone and so that motivated him to do his homework.
Lots of Improvement
Tom was able to improve his grades to A’s and B’s. He stopped complaining of stomach and headaches, and no longer cried on school mornings. Tom’s parents were much less stressed, and were very proud of their son. Tom felt a lot better about school and about himself. The family learned how to support Tom, rather than the downward cycle of pressuring him and using punishment, frustrating Tom to where he would give up. We met periodically and when Tom’s grade began to slip, or he lost motivation, we problem-solved what was going on, instead of just putting more pressure on him. One time, Tom’s grades went down and after talking to him, his parents found out that he was being bullied at school. They contacted the school and it was dealt with appropriately so the bullying stopped. Tom social skills group also addressed how to respond to bullies, and his grades went back up.
If you would like guidance on how to help with your child’s school issues, feel free to contact us.