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Child refuses to do school work
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Child refuses to do school work

My son is 8 years old and is repeating 1st grade.  Toward the end of last school year he was diagnosed with ADHD and put on Ritalin.  At first he did much better on the medication, but since he started it in March, he was kept back.  This year he started out fairly well, but the past several months he often refuses to do any of his work in class.  It's not that he can't do the work.  It's that if he wants to do it, he will.  But if he does not want to do it, he just will not.  Today, for example, he didn't do one paper in class.  He was, however, able to complete ALL of his classwork in his one hour tutoring session that he had tonight.  

He is also disruptive in class (according to his teacher) and often disturbs other children.  Sometimes the other children get frustrated with him, although his teacher says that for the most part the other children do like him.  I am at a total loss of what to do and how to get him to do his work.  I have tried rewarding him for completing his school work.  I have tried punishing him when he does not do his school work.  Nothing seems to work.  

I should also mention that last school year he lost his 17 year old sister who died in a car accident.  Three months later my father, who he was very close to, died of cancer.  I don't know if this might be a factor in his behavior.  I have a "theory" that maybe he feels like he can't control much of his life (like when people die), but he CAN control when and if he does his school work.  I am certainly not a psychiatrist, but this seems like a possiblity to me.  But then again, if that was the case, wouldn't this behavior have started last year??

If anyone has ANY ideas how I can help my son, I would be VERY greatful!  Thank you.
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I think you have a great theory.  He should see a therapist about his issues with loss and his trouble at school.  His problem may not be ADHD, but some other disorder that will be handled better with a different medication.

You are saying your 8 year old will be in first grade again next year.  So, he will be nine in the 1st grade?  I'm sure his size and age compared to the other students might be a factor as well.  This will place your son at risk to be successful later by being so much older.  I don't think retention is his best option.

Good luck and God bless.
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obviously, retention is not the answer here
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Thank you for your comments.  I am sorry if my post was confusing.  My son will not be in 1st grade again next year.  He will be moving to 2nd grade.  This year was his second year of 1st grade.  Fortunately he is small for his age.  In fact, he is not even close to being the tallest boy in class!  He has been seeing a counselor since his sister died (about 1 1/2 years ago).  I don't really think it is helping.  I am considering looking for a new counselor.  But it is hard to find a child counselor who has opening (sad, but true).
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I know how hard it can be to find a good therapist, but once you get the right one, things start to happen.  If you can't get in to a therapist, would you be open to seeing a Clergy member?  Many have degrees in counseling or therapy, and may have some real insight to help your son.  

Good luck and God bless
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