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I need some advice on how to motivate my 8 year old daughter to pay attention more at school and achieve higher grades.

She seems to have a short attention span and seems more interested in break times with her friends than the lessons themselves. Her teachers are always complaining she doesn't listen and doesn't pay attention enough therefore she is not learning as much as the others in her class.

She does however focus all her attentions on her friends, one in particular and has become obsessed with this girl and wants to spend all her time with her and this is also causing problems with her friendships in class as she doesn't seem to want to share this girl's attention. She has become very bossy and quite mouthy with the rest of her class and is proving very unpopular just now. This is upsetting her as she doesn't get picked for teams or groups.

Both her teachers and myself have tried to talk to her about focusing more on her lessons and I have tried motivation rewards for better grades but they haven't improved. I have tried to get her involved in hobbies also but again her attention span and interest is short and she doesn't seem to stick at anything in particular.

I have asked all sorts of questions regarding behaviour problem syndromes to professionals who seem to dismiss this and say she is just very strong willed and maybe has an obsessive personality but so far have offered no help in combating or improving this.

Any ideas to help with improving her school grades would be really appreciated.

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Though I understand your frustration, you're asking to reprogram your eight year old. She will put her attention where she wants and you can't change that. I would also turn my attention to her tv shows. Its astounding the stuff that they are putting on Disney these days. I can guarantee she learned this bossy and mouthy behavior from somewhere.

I would also seek alternative education. I had similar problems in 4th grade and they assumed I had ADHD (like my older brother) when in fact I was just bored of the material. Our daily curriculum is designed for people who need 45 minutes of repetition, not for the ones that get it the first time it was explained. She may be bored because she's not being challenged by the material, which will cause her to default to not paying attention meaning that she misses when they move onto something new.

I would also turn my attention away from her grades to benchmark her intellectual capabilities as grading policies are innately biased towards interaction rather than correctness. This creates an atmosphere where extroverts, who need to project their ideas onto others, excel; where as, introverts, who aren't being shy, they just don't feel comfortable expressing themselves in a judgmental environment.

As for her attachment issues, this is normal during this phase. We are more aware of our own complexities and we seek those attributes out in others. Jealousy is something that is sure to follow. The only thing you can do is spend some quality time with her to show her an example of how to interact with people. (I'm sorry if this seems judgmental, but every "mouthy" child I've ever encountered has had a "mouthy" parent. We mimic our parents more than ourselves. She is probably repeating a tone she heard you take with someone, most likely out of sarcasm.)

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You say:

I have asked all sorts of questions regarding behaviour problem syndromes to professionals who seem to dismiss this and say she is just very strong willed and maybe has an obsessive personality but so far have offered no help in combating or improving this.

I don't know what country you live in, but you should be getting more support from professionals you have asked than you appear to have been getting.

I will be honest: my first reaction when I read this was, "She's in fourth grade!" I don't place a whole lot of weight on scholastic achievement in the very lower grades, but if you do, the single most important thing you can do with her is to help her with aaaaallll her homework. Each of her teachers should send her assignment (or post them to the school website) so that you know every night everything she's supposed to do, then sit down with her every night until it's all done, the reading, the problems, the everything. And I know how much I'm asking of you. It's nothing I didn't do with those of mine who needed it. The chilf who needed it the most is now in medical school (he got in himself, I didn't involve myself in his college) ans is at the top 20% of his class, so it worked for us!

The laissez-faire parents will no doubt say, "how will she learn from her mistakes if you hold her hand?" Well, some children need hand holding if they are going down a path that bodes badly.

As for her other interests: she's 8. When my son was 8 (the same one, btw) he had only one friend. We instituted a new rule that he had to play with two other people every time he played with person A before he could play with A again. Well, it took time, and he had to be nice to the others so he could continue playing with all of them, and in the long run, he was more socially well developed than he might have been otherwise.

You will think I was a helicopter parent. I wasn't. This kid was floundering, and I wasn't going to let that happen.

OCD happens in kids. It often occurs co-morbidly with other 'D's - ADHD, ODD, and other problems. If none of your "professionals" had offered to test her for OCD and ADHD, then get a referral and go from there.

You're not helpless and you're not alone. You can make a difference.

My best wishes for your success and that of your daughter's.

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