Adolescent Psychiatrist Questions Attention Deficit Disorder

Why is my child all of a sudden losing interest in his schoolwork?

My son is 8 years old and had been a diligent student since kindergarten. He was self-motivated and mostly self-sufficient, however recently he has been neglecting his focus on school. What could be the possible reason behind it? How can I approach this problem before it's too late?

4 Answers

Looks like he has very good potential. But, changes in social settings, friendships, and increased difficulties in school may influence it. One of the approaches is contingency management (basically rewarding for good outcomes), however, it has to be done correctly, otherwise it can be damaging. Also, he has to be evaluated by a professional in psychiatry to see if there are other underlying causes.

I hope it helps. Good luck.
Children may appear to lose interest, or focus, in schoolwork for many reasons. You could try asking the child, though unfortunately, children younger than 10 often have difficulty explaining why their behavior is the way it is. They simply haven't developed the ability to observe and describe themselves. Sometimes events or major changes in family relationships - e.g. divorce, move, teacher on maternity leave - clearly link to a change in a child's behavior. Sometimes children have always had a particular difficulty (inattention, anxiety, etc.) that only become visible as schoolwork gets harder. Consultation with a licensed mental health professional may help distinguish among these or other potential causes.

NB: This does not constitute medical advice, please see the disclaimer in my Expert Blog for details.
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Stressful events at school or home can lead to sudden changes in motivation. Assuming that there are no new stressors at home, you can start by discussing with your son as well as his teachers if there's anything different at school; check with teachers to see if his behavior has changed in the classroom. Accordingly, a meeting with the school counselor and the teacher as well as other school officials may be in order. A depression and an anxiety screening done by the school counselor may also be helpful. Look for bullying or other forms of stress at school, especially ones related to social interactions.
1. Schedule a meeting with the child’s teacher to assess if he/she notices any changes and/or deficiencies in the child’s work.

2. Ask the child if there is any person or situation that makes him feel uncomfortable.