My 12-year-old son, who is in Grade VI, cannot concentrate on his studies and his grades are deteriorating. As a parent, I help him with his homework. His teachers complain that he does not respond in classes, nor does he complete his assignments. My son apparently has a problem grasping lessons. I have noticed that he is not ready to answer questions asked by his teachers during online classes, and his mind is distracted. Although he is an inquisitive and active young boy, he does not engage in classroom activities. He has to be coaxed and cajoled into everything. He also has a problem comprehending time or distance properly. How can I help him? -Y
Answer by Dr Rishav Koirala, Psychiatrist at Grande Hospital
All symptoms here are related to concentration. But there is a need for further exploration to find out more and discover other symptoms.
Your son is at an age when he is bound to go through many behavioral changes. You must try to determine what is causing the changes that are hindering his ability to concentrate and affecting his studies. Is he not able to do everyday things for his age because of lack of motivation? Or is he just displaying oppositional behavior since you, as a parent, have been pushing him into doing things?
I would recommend visiting either a clinical psychologist or a child psychiatrist who can assess your son’s symptoms. Kanti Children’s Hospital at Maharajgunj has a children guidance clinic with a team of experts who specialize in child psychology. They can guide you on how you can help your son.
On a personal level, try to understand him. It is wonderful that you make time for him and help him out with school-work. But try to understand what he is thinking as well. Maybe ask him how he is feeling. What is happening? What is he thinking about? Why is it hard for him to concentrate? Why doesn’t he finish assignments?
Often, direct questioning may not be fruitful as he may not know the answers himself. But it is important to create an environment for your son to comfortably communicate and express his feelings. You can then ask him these questions. Your job is to create that environment at home, acknowledge his feelings with utmost care and love, and consult professionals if you deem it necessary for your son’s development.
With online classes, lack of interaction with peers has separated many children from the real world. Has your son been struggling since before or after the pandemic’s onset? This may help you understand its cause and that is the first step to figuring out how you can improve things. As you said, he is an inquisitive and active child, so with proper guidance, care and treatment, he could well be able to fulfill his responsibilities.