My 13 Year Old Son Refuses to Listen in School

by Trina
(Indiana)

Question: My son is a good kid at home. He has never smarted off to me or had a disrespectful attitude. However, I get phone calls weekly from the school about his behavior.


He is 13 years old and has progressively gotten worse over the years, according to his vice principal. The things are not major, but still pose a problem.

He talks when it's not his turn, won't do an assignment in the allotted time due to talking or visiting with friends, doesn't stay after class when requested, forgets to go to after school detention even after he was reminded, acts inappropriate between classes to gain attention from his friends, etc.

He has been grounded from everything and still the behavior continues. The other thing about him that worries me is that he feels that life is unfair in general. He is very hard on himself and feels sorry for himself often.

I have tried to explain to him that frame of mind plays a big role in things that happen around you. I have also explained that because of his reputation at school that HE has created, he will not be given the benefit of the doubt when "things" happen around him.

His grades have always been decent, he even makes the honor roll at times. However, last week he had an F on his report card! I don't know what to do. I have 3 other children and don't notice any of these traits in them.

My older son is 15 and has NEVER gotten in trouble in school to this day. I feel there is something I'm missing or maybe a tactic I haven't tried. HELP.

Answer: Is it possible that he could be having symptoms of ADHD or possibly sensory processing disorder symptoms?

The excessive talking (often a symptom of ADHD or sensory seeker and inability to pay attention to his tasks seem to be the biggest symptoms I see. He may just need to have his environment altered to help him focus better. This could be having his desk placed in an area away from everyone else in the room or allowing him to use ear plugs to tune out classroom noise.

I'm also wondering what the immediate consequences for him are when he engages in these behaviors at school. Does it seem that he is simply allowed to just do this and then gets in trouble later when his assignment isn't done?

Some kids just need a more structured environment to thrive. You may be giving him this at home, but maybe he is unable to get this at school. That might also be why it is getting progressively worse because kids usually get more freedom and independence in school as they get older.

If you review the symptoms of both and feel that he may have a lot of one or the other, talk to your pediatrician about getting him evaluated by a professional in that field in your area. Also, although ADHD is typically treated with medication, just know there are also natural herbs and treatments that can help with excessive talking/ attention problems as well if you are hesitant.

Good luck!

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