Problems with 11 year old

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by iamnotpetergriffin, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. iamnotpetergriffin

    iamnotpetergriffin New Member

    Hi folks. I am happy to have found this forum and hope some of you experienced parents out there who have been through this can offer some sound advice.

    My wife and I have two beautiful daughters. One is on the verge of turning 11, the other is 5.

    When my oldest daughter was 9, she started having some difficulties in Math at school. She was given extra help and stayed around the "C" grade (she was a strict "A" and "B" student in all years prior). We didn't think much of this, I mean every kid is going to have peaks and valleys with their grades, but by the end of that grade 3 school year, her grades were lower as was her overall interest in doing well academically. At the time, we blamed it on her joining a popular safe-kids website called Club Penguin. So when grade 4 started, we began limiting her computer time on school days a bit so she could focus on her studies. Her grade 4 teacher was not very hands on, and we thought that was the problem with her lack of interest and her continual slipping in Math. Some concepts of math came easy, others were uphill. When I tried to help her at home, it was as if I was teaching her the match from square one and she was not even at school. Jump forward to this year and it's worse. Her teacher has been in touch with us several times about her not completing homework, not maintaining her planner, not being neat, overall you could say she has little care for school (though most of her grades are "B", math is now "D+".

    The past few years she has also grown in her lack of cleaning her room, lack of simply listening to us as parents, lack of following simple instructions around the house. This has started to rub off on our 5 year old, and she's even becoming an old soul, much to mature for her age.

    So what prompted me to write this on this particular day? Well, my 10 year old girl has a project that requires considerable work due in about 10 days. Without my coaching, she makes no progress in working on it. She acts like she doesn't care. At all. So after talking nicely and explaining the benefits of an education for the 1000th time, I told her she was banned from using the computer until her assignment was complete. I'm here to answer questions and listen to her thoughts on the project, but I can't do it for her and I can't be her shadow constantly.

    So why haven't I seen the family doctor as her teacher has suggested? First, I will mention this at my next personal appointment with him, and second, she has NO problems following instructions if it's something she has interest in. She has NO problem organizing her ideas if it's an artwork or project she's interested in. She has NO problems doing research on-line if it's something she's intersted in, like Webkinz or Twilight. Basically, whatever has her interest, she can focus on with no problem.

    I think she's playing my wife and I. I think we've spoiled her out of love, but have we somehow missed something? She's a very considerate child at school, wouldn't pick on someone if she was paid to, has many friends, has really no social problems with getting along with anyone.

    But this lack of listening to Mom and Dad and her being upset and angry over homework is getting very frustrating.

    If anyone has been through this or can offer insight, suggestions, or has any questions for me that may help, please dont' hesitate to respond, I would really appreciate it. And so would my wife!

    Thanks for your time.....
  2. JJJ

    JJJ Active Member

    It sounds like she might have a learning disability in math. It is very common for that to show up around 3rd grade. Since the school is admitting that it is a problem, they should be willing to test her for a math Learning Disability (LD).
  3. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    First of all, welcome!

    JJJ has some good advice but I want to chime in on something that caught my eye from your post. You mentioned that your daughter has no trouble focusing/organizing when it's something that interests her. My son, who has ADHD (more on that later) is the exact same way. Just as an example, when he was younger, he was heavily into Pokemon cards. He had binders of them and they were all in plastic sleeves and organized by categories or fighting powers. Try to get him to organize even one folder for school? Nope, wasn't going to happen. COULDN'T happen most times. He was literally unable to focus on things enough to reason out that paper A needs to be in front because he'll need that one first, then paper B, etc.

    If you already know about this, I apologize but there are a lot of misconceptions about ADHD. A lot of people think it's just a hyperactivity thing when in reality it affects much more. A person with ADHD has great difficulty with impulse control and organization. They usually seem to be very sloppy with their work (be it school or actual work) and are constantly (or at least in my son's case) losing things. It comes across as that he or she is just being careless or lazy but he/she actually has to work on what generally comes fairly easy for the rest of us.

    Am I saying that I think your daughter HAS ADHD? No, not at all. First of all no one here is qualified to diagnosis but beyond that, based on my experience with my son, I would think there would be signs in other classes and/or at home. I don't see that at all. Personally, I agree with JJJ. You may want to look at having your daughter tested for a learning disorder. If nothing else, it can rule out any issues in that area and maybe give you a different direction to go. If that does turn out to be the case however, she may need to learn math in a different way or it may always be an issue for her. It would just depend on the severity.

    Good luck and don't be afraid to look around. There are a lot of good people here with a lot of experience and ideas. Welcome again!
  4. nvts

    nvts Active Member

    Hi "NotPeter"! Stewie is one of my heroes by the way.

    You didn't mention what the project is that is due in 10 days. Is it math also?

    I agree with JJJ about math learning disabilities. I'd get it checked out. Also, you have to consider with math, it's a series of building blocks. If she's lost on one single concept, it may be working as a road block - therefore the lack of willingness to work on it.

    You also mentioned that she used to be all A's & B's but right now math is a D+. Dollars to doughnuts her self-esteem is at about 2 out of 10. I'd keep an eye open for depression.

    Just a guess, but something to think about!


  5. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    There are lots of things that came to mind when I read this.

    The main one being, as children become older they are expected to become more independent. It is at this age that some issues come to light that were not noticed before or that could be explained away by other things.

    There are various learning disabilities, NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD) (non-verbal learning disability) EFD (Executive Function Disorders), anxiety, on and on and on, that come to mind.

    My daughter has EFD, as well as severe anxiety, and she needs constant guidance. Organizing, planning, meeting deadlines, even cleaning her room are overwhelming because she simply doesn't know where to start. If you spell it out (for example with steps written down) she can accomplish it. She was about this age when it started to become apparent: unorganized in school, forgetting to bring homework home, forgetting to turn it in, etc. At this age, math becomes more complex involving more than one step. She can get it, it just takes her longer. I can so relate to teaching it from home like she was never at school. It was a daily occurence. She was missing recess to get her class folders organized. I could go on and on.

    On the other hand, she can do and does research things she's interested in. She has taught herself to knit and crochet, for example. However, it's a process and there are several weeks of her melting down over it (and these are things she wants to do) until she finally gets it.

    I would get a neuropsychological evaluation. I don't recommend it for everyone (although some here do), but I think in your daughter's case it could be very helpful. Pediatricians are not qualified in this area.

    It's easy when you're in the midst of it to just focus on the behavior. I'm guilty of it myself. But, I think it's important to step back and look at everything as a whole and see if you can put things together.
  6. flutterby

    flutterby Fly away!

    New member, but got moved down the page...bumping it up.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    THis one screamed at me.

    And I do NOT believe she is playing you guys. I think she is really in trouble.

    When this happens to you, it is scary. We went through this with easy child 2/difficult child 2 and it terrified us because previously, she had been our chhild genius. She had tested as having an IQ of 145 at the age of 4, which we used to get her accelerated into school. She'd been driving me crazy at home, desperately searching for intellectual stimulation and had already exhausted all the possibilities of pre-school. They couldn't give her enough academically either.

    For the first couple of years at school, she was unstoppable and it justified our actions. Then we began to notice increasing oddities. Maths was the first area of concern. Like you, we put it down to the teacher, who was openly disapproving of easy child 2/difficult child 2 being accelerated. So we began coaching her at home, mostly on the weekend because her school was such a long way from home, after school was not practical. husband & I are both university educated in science and maths, we can do this. But we noticed the same thing you are noticing - skills and knowledge we KNEW she previously had, were totally missing. We then took note - if we missed a weekend, she had absolutely no recollection we had ever covered that topic. But if we got onto it quickly in just on a week, she remembered having learnt it but couldn't remember how to do it. Once we showed her, she would pick it up quickly and get cracking to complete a number of tasks accurately and quickly.
    So we tested this in the holidays - she would be a bit rusty after a 3 day interval, but still able to get back into the habitwith minimal help. A week - she would need a refresher course from us. Two weeks - we had to teacher her entirely, she insisted she had never done that topic before.

    At the same time - yes, she was obsessive, especially about teddy bears and anything furry to touch. She was gifted with language, was an early reader but socially seemed to be regressing in maturity. She would socialise either with adults or with much younger children.
    At the same time we had concerns about both our boys. The older one had a diagnosis of ADHD which never seemed to explain everything. The younger one we were beginning to think Asperger's maybe.

    We finally got the kids all assessed at the same time. The diagnosis for easy child 2/difficult child 2 was borderline Asperger's plus ADD (inattentive type). She simply wasn't able to pay attention deep in her brain, at a deep enough level for the information to be laid down in long-term memory. She started on medications for ADHD (at a very low dose) and it was like magic. She brought her marks back up from almost failing, to top her class in school the following term.
    However, we have found she can't stop her medications without us wanting to kill her, she seems so "blonde" off her medications! As she has gotten older, we've noticed the Aspie symptoms becoming more apparent. However, she is far too socially adept for a full Asperger's diagnosis.

    It's very complex. Asperger's is difficult to diagnosis in girls because they can be so different. It's a new area, still very subjective.
    If you are interested, go to and look for their online Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) test. It's not diagnostic, it's not allowed to be, but you can print the results and take them with you to a doctor or specialist and ask for their professional opinion.

    I love your handle, by the way. We're Family Guy fans here. Especially Stewie, and Brian.

    Also, something else you need to bear in mind - your daughter's self-esteem is probably plummetting, and with you guys laying down the law it's only making her feel even worse about herself. She needs to feel she can talk to you about her fears, but at the moment you're part of them. Sorry.

    Read "Explsoive CHild" by Ross Greene, it might help you get a feel for how she is thinking and a different way to handle her. She needs SOME computer time but I do feel you are on the right track there too (sorry to seem to be contradicting myself, I'm not really) - I tihnk she could be using the computer as a way to deflect her academic problems. IN other words, she could be manufacturing her own excuse for failure, byt making sure the computer time can be blamed. But at the same time, she is using it as recreation and distraction from her fears and distress over it all.

    What she needs - she MUST learn to identify her academic problems and then turn and face them square on. It's something that few people ever master, but now she has a golden opportunity to learn, just as you have a golden opportuity to teach her (which means you must practice this too). She must see you and your wife confront any of your own obstacles, just as she needs to learn to do this also.

    For example (from Maths) - "I find trigonometry a bit confusing, I'm stuck. I also need to learn about congruent triangles, I think I can understand tat a bit better. Oh well, there will only be three querstions on trig that I will just have to acccept I will get wrong, if I focus on learning everything else then I could slide through."
    THAT is the wrong attitude. It's a triage attitude to education. Instead, she has to learn to ask for help with trigonometry and not to feel scared by it. It's scaryto do this - to ask for help with trig is to admit to having a problem and thereby open yourself up to ridicule or scolding. "Why didn't you tell me before, that you didn't understand? We just wasted the last four weeks in class!"
    If the fear of ridicule or scolding is stopping her from opening up (even to herself) andadmitting she is struggling with a particular topic or subject, then she will be shrinking more into her own shell and this will show in other areas. Depression was mentioned by someone - definitely. And it only gets worse, much worse.

    The cure - get help. Also, talk with her and teach her to face her fears, face her own feelings of inadequacy and in so doing, to turn them around. Of course she can't do it without help. And she also needs to know, it's probably NOT her fault.

    She is entitled to help. She needs to know this, and to know that you are not going to be critical but instead you're going to help.

    Not easy.

    Stick aorund, get your wife to do so also.