23 answers

I Need Advice on Keeping My 7 Year Old Son Focused During Homework Time.

I have a 7 year old son that has the hardest time staying focused on his homework. It can take him up to 2 hours to complete it. Sometimes he gets so frustrated that he cries and hits himself in the head. I've tried everything like letting him take breaks to calm himself down, having him do his homework away from his 2 sisters in a quiet space. He gets notes sent home from school saying he isn't getting his work done and he's not staying focused. I've been advised to get him tested for ADD or ADHD, but my husband and I don't want to medicate him or single him out. I just really need some advice because I have a daughter that just started kindergarten and I want to give her equal attention when it comes to homework time. But my attention ends up having to mainly be focused on my son. I just really want homework time to be alot more peaceful and relaxing. Thank you to all of you that take the time to help me out!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I should've mentioned some things in my first request. My son is my stepson,although I feel no different for him as I do my 2 daughter's who I gave physical birth to.He has a mother who left him at 6months of age with his father and came back into his life off and on a few months after that. She never really treated him like her son, he was always like her little brother.She actually even said those exact words to me! Well a couple years ago, she met someone and got married and moved out of state. He stays with her in the summertime and ever since then he's developed these "problems". She never goes over things that he's learned in school like reading, or addition, anything!So by the time he comes home, all is just about forgotten that he had learned the year before. So I think that has alot to do with his not staying focused. I don't have anything against people using medication if the child really needs it. I was just hoping someone had suggestions to try before I went ahead with him getting tested and all. I've heard wonderful things and awful things about medicating your children. I haven't done it so I'm in no way in the postion to judge anybody. I'd just like to hear ways that work without the medication first to see if they work. Thank you all who have responded to my situation and I will take every response into consideration! Thank you and God Bless!

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I guarantee you that he is add or adhd. It is a chemical imbalance, and he can't help it. The meds are cery good and will help him stay focused. Once he is in control, he will develop better self esteem.

I read some of the responses and people have different views about ADHD and putting kids on meds. I go both ways on this issue. I think that you should have him tested, and if they think that he needs to be put on meds, just keep on open mind about it. I'm almost done working on my BA in Psychology and have worked with kids with ADH. There is a big difference between when they are and aren't on there meds. One child I worked with his mother would let him have the weekends without any meds since he wasnt in school so that way he could have a little break from the meds. Maybe he gets frustrated by seeing all the questions he has to do. One thing that might work is covering up all the questions he has to work on except for one. It might be easier for him to focus if he only sees one question versus several. Whatever happens, I wish you luck.

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Hello. Before I start, I am a mother of twins, a boy who is ADHD / Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a daughter who has none of these symptoms. I have been many rounds lately with my son not focusing. Switching meds, behavior therapy, etc. He currently sees a psychiatrist and a psychologist. I am replying at the risk of not sounding harsh, if I do, my apologies. So here goes!

I too, when I went to his first appointment said "we don't needs meds this soon, he is too young." I could not have been more wrong. This time in your childs life is the most important. If you do not send him for testing, he will most likely fall behind in his phonetic learning, which will set him up for failure later in life with school. These are the words of my son's psychologist, not mine.

Honestly, you will probably single him out more if you don't do anything about this and he continues to struggle. Teachers will also be less willing to work with you if you are not willing to at least get him the testing suggested to you. In my opinion, this will single him out more. Getting in trouble at school because he isn't focusing with the class, not doing his work. He could also begin to lash out due to the fact he is so frusterated.

After my son got on meds, his school work improved 100%. I had never seen him be able to focus like he did when he was on the meds. And his progress made him so proud.

But let me stress the following point to all of the others leaving advice who think ADHD is overdiagnosed and people use meds too much, again, without the risk of sounding harsh, only factual:

***Unless you have lived with an ADHD child, you have no idea what it is like to see your child suffer without meds. You can do every case study you want, but you do not know how it feels to watch your child suffer not being able to do a series of tasks due to the fact he/she simply cannot focus. Watching them cry as they try to focus and not understanding why he can't as well as a sibling or other classmates. And the stuggle affects the entire family. More importantly than parents, young siblings not old enough to understand what is going on.***

Yes, I agree, meds are not the answer for all and are used a lot these days. But we also know more about ADHD these days than we did 20 years ago. If you had a broken arm, would you go to the doctor to get it set and casted? Of course! Then why not fix this problem? Your son can't focus, and it has been recommended you have him tested. The testing is available. What can testing him hurt? And the doctors will be happy to talk to you about all the different options you have available.

Good luck. Again, I don't mean to sound harsh, but I feel very passionate about this subject as it is very near and dear to my heart due to my son's problems.

God Bless and take care,

1 mom found this helpful

You have a lot of good advice on here both for and against medication. I think it's still a bit controversial and I think it's such a personal decision that I wouldn't make any recommendations on way or the other. I would like to say, since it hasn't been brought up yet, that you may want to delve more deeply into his summers away. What is going on there? There may be more going on than you are aware of. You mentioned that the problems started when he started going to his mother's for the summer. It may simply be that he's forgetting what he learned, and it may be that he's really being affected by the two different lives he now has to live. He is only 7 and to me, truly sounds like a regular boy. We put so much pressure on our young children today to hurry up and grow up and we no longer let them be children. You may want to talk to him more about what he does all summer, and if he's not sharing, see if you can find ways to help him cope with all these changes. Children are tough and resilient, and at the same time, so tender. He may just be really torn about trying to please 2 sets of parents and having to change. Hopefully there is nothing worse going on over the summer. You may also want to check into homeschooling him. I've heard from MANY mom's of boys that certain areas of learning, like reading, take boy's much longer to do. The average reading age of boy used to be 10 and girl's was 7. This was before we demanded that they know how to read by the age of 5-6. He may just need to go his own pace for a little while, they do catch up! All the mom's that I've spoken to, that homeschool, had their boys not only catch up but surpass the one's they were behind. Just some options for you! Let me know if I can help you more,

I have an 8 year old son who has ADHD, his father has it, and so does his grandfather. It's not terrible, and it's not a flaw! Try looking at it like this - if your son had trouble seeing, would you get him glasses or ask him to try harder? It's a general approach. There's alot of things to try before medication - so don't despair. Changing his diet slightly may work a miracle!

My son too had difficulties doing his homework. So here's what I did - if your son has ADD/ADHD this will likely help. (or it did for us) Kids with attention spans fairly short benefit from schedules / breaks and knowing what to expect. Say he has vocab, math and reading. When he gets home, have a chart ready with a point system for him. If you want a copy of mine - email me and I'll be glad to send you an example chart - it's easy and kid friendly. Have his homework broken into sessions - instead of one big sit down. He's been in school all day so he's likely needing to unwind... so with our son we let him play for 30 min, then do 1 part homework. Then a 10 min break, then 2nd part of homework and so forth. Usually this works and prevents boredem as well as frustration and rushing. The point chart compliments him - he can earn special things for doing his work w/o complaining, this isn't necessarily tangible - it can be ball with dad, special game time w/ mom and dad...etc. You can set up your rewards program as you want, rewards earned daily - or a larger rewards program that allows him to work for rewards for the weekend (a sundae or a movie, or an hour at the park). Make his homework his 'job'. Just like mom and/or dad have to do their job - his homework is his. Just like mom and/or dad earn their money/rewards - he earns his! My son loves working hard for his rewards! And I'm not bribing him - these 'rewards' are our general activities, so it's a win/win situation - you get a kid who completes his homework - and he gets to feel accomplished and rewarded!

Good luck! I know it will work out!!!

You should definatly have him tested. He might not have ADHD or ADD. It could be dislexia or something else or nothing. And you don't always have to medicate sometimes diet helps alot. But know what your dealing with can do anything but help. And try letting him get some school stress out before he sits down and does homework.

Dear K.,
I have been a teacher for the last five years and I can understand your frustration. If you can see how much trouble your son is having at home with homework, think about how much trouble he is having at school with several other children in the room that can distract him. So my question is, why don't you want to have your son tested for add, or adhd? You see him struggling and you want the best for him but you are deciding to not get him the help that he needs? Don't you think he is already singled out at school when he can't complete his lessons on time? Don't you think he is singled out at school if he punches himself in the head when he is frustrated? (Believe me if he does it at home he does it at school too) If you want to help your son, go and have him tested. The doctor will be able to give you much more information about add and adhd. Perhaps you can try something else besides medication. Letting your son fall behind in his school work because he can't concentrate certainly isn't a better solution than talking with a doctor. Please, for your son go and get him the help that he needs!

Hi K.,
As I was collecting my thoughts for a response, I read the others' comments. The lady named Lee actually said exactly what I was thinking in every way. My son has taken Strattera for quite some time and it has been a life saver in many ways. Many people tend to judge those medicating their children without any real knowledge of what ADHD is or does to the child's self esteem, his school life, and his home life. Medication may not be the answer for everyone, but for a child with true ADHD, it made all the difference. It did not change his personality and he continued eating normally. He takes one capsule before leaving for school, so he is not singled out during the day, although I suspect he is not the only child taking medication. I get great support from the school staff also. If something improves my child's self esteem, helps him look forward to going to school, and makes home life so much better, it made no sense to me to feel badly about giving him medication. The other methods might be worth a try, and some may help your son improve, but nothing else worked for my child, and I have never regretted it.

Hi K.,

My nephew is the SAME way, in fact until I saw your name I thought my sister-in-law had written in. I babysit him and his brother afterschool so I am in charge of homework time. I would like to address this in a couple of stages. First something that works for my nephew's frustration and then the testing and medication.

What works for my nephew's frustration level is breaks, but we have about an hour when he comes home from school. He can play or just go be by himself. He likes to spend time alone and his brother doesn't so Matt always ends up playing with his brother. I decided to stop that. It is entirely up the what Matt wants to do. Adam can ask, but he isn't allowed to do the guilt trip thing or keep asking more than once. Other wise he gets a 5 minute break after each piece of work completed. It sort of forces him to calm down. I also remind him to focus and to sit down a lot, but he doesn't get frustrated as easily.

If your son has a perfectionist attitude, Matt who is 7 really really does, make sure he knows it is ok to make mistakes. That every one does sometimes. I had to start letting my nephews see mine on my classes, as this has really helped them see that just because their work is easy for me, they are in first and second grade, that not everything is. I think this is one of the best things I did for them.

As far as testing and medicine. I understand your reluctance to go that route, however there is no harm in testing. It doesn't single them out. My family has a long history of ADHD and my dad wouldn't let us be tested or treated. We all suffered for it. Behavior problems and impulse control issues are especially bad in my family. There are many safer medicine that is now on the market. Ok, just wanted to say my peace about that as I have issues with it...hehe. But things you can try before going the medicine route. Limit sugar intake, if he truly has ADHD give him coffee or other caffiene products (limited of cource...maybe one at homework time). ADHD is a chemical imbalance and the caffiene works differently, it actually will calm someone down. Red dyes are really bad for it to. So limit those, things like catsup, BBQ sause, any red or pink kool-aid, you get the gist?

I don't know what to say about biological mom, because you are his real one. I do not understand people who don't put their children first, and be actual parents, not big sisters or friends, but hey another soap box of mine I will get off of :)
If possible I guess I would try to get him back a week or two before school starts and do a short but intensive summer program with him or give him "homework" to take with him. Find something he is really interested in, such as history or science and make cross words or word searches, that sort of thing. Maybe that will help with not losing as much information.

If you ever need to talk to someone with lots of experience with this, please let me know. I am here.


My 8 year old has ADHD. It is not a diagnosis that came in his doctor's office. We spent many hours having psychological testing done to test for developmental disorders before we derived at a diagnosis of ADHD. It is very frustrating for a child to feel as if their mind is a TV remote and someone in the background is flipping through the channels. In addition to meds, which is a personal choice, but one I suggest be looked into, we had family counselling sessions, and behavior modification lessons. Your son is old enough to tell you how HE feels. My son's homework takes hours and hours on the days he just doesnt feel like it. Those are the days I tell him "No tv/ video games today, until it is done". He gets to make the decision. Bad grades mean no fun stuff. Report cards came yesterday...straight A's.

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