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My Son Quickly Loses Interest in Things!

17 March, 2023
Q Asalamu alaikum, thank you very much for offering this service to us it's very helpful. May Allah reward everyone involved! My first question is I have a nine-year-old who doesn't like to follow his schedule; one week he is very good, next week he doesn't want to do anything or one day he is good next day he doesn't want to work on anything. When it comes to school he doesn't want to take the time to really understand the question his answering.

He reads very quickly and just answers. I did everything I can to discipline him, I took away his iPad which he loves I tell him all the time if you don't follow your schedule then there are consequences but it doesn’t work. On Fridays, he loves to go to the park and enjoy playing with friends I take that away too but it doesn't work.

The other thing is, I try my best to teach him but I'm not educated. At the moment, his struggling with comprehension and math word problems. I can't afford to tutor. Is there any way I can help him to really understand what the math problem his reading is about.

He really loves to read books he can read all day. He is also very shy he doesn't want to talk to anybody once I took him to karate and he likes it then I don't want to go I have butterflies in my stomach but after class he loved it. I tell him at first it's like that but you will get over it but that never help because every time I mention something new he is like nope I'm not doing it. He is always very quiet when other kids are talking. Please give me all the resources and help you can. I'm also a single parent.


In this counseling answer:

•Research shows that it takes about 30 days of consistently doing (or not doing) something to create a habit.

•In order to encourage him to stick with the behaviors and schedule, you may need to use consequences as you have been doing.

•Set up a chart that lists the behaviors you want to develop in him and those which he needs to follow.

•focus on the behaviors that you want to see changed.

•Make an appointment with his teacher and discuss his progress in class (as well as any behaviors) to get the teacher’s perspective.

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As salamu alaykum,

Thank you for writing to us. We are so happy to hear that our services are helpful to you, all things of good are through and from Allah. May Allah swt continue to guide us and bless our efforts to serve.

Regarding your questions, I will answer your concerns in separate parts. As I understand it your son is nine years old has difficulty following schedules one week, then is fine the next; some days he wants to do things, the next day he may not. At this age, children have growing independence and will tend to try and do what they want to do as they can be quite hedonistic.

While they may seem to not want structure they truly do but they cannot create it on their own, they need a parent to help them. Children at this age do like the security of a routine and of the “known’ even though they may not admit it or even be cognizant of this need.

Perhaps this is why he is also is reluctant to try new things, and is shy around other kids because it is not known and it is stepping outside of the structure and comfort zone he does have.

This is also a time wherein he is starting preadolescence. With this comes changes in his hormones, his body as well as his emotions.

My Son Quickly Loses Interest in Things! - About Islam

I would kindly suggest that you find a time to discuss this period of life with him if you have not already. As you are a single parent, if there is a male adult in the family he is close to, perhaps he can talk to him about these changes. If not, I am sure you will address the subject with love, educational information as well as tailor the conversation so that he can ask questions, share his feelings if he chooses.

As he likes to read, perhaps reading books together on this topic (in case he has questions or needs guidance) may be beneficial insha’Allah. Also, this is also a time of changes and emotions, please do try to ensure that he is not suffering from depression. Please see here for symptoms.

Some Useful Strategies

As far as his behaviors, I would kindly suggest setting up a chart which list the behaviors you want to develop in him and those which he needs to follow. You can put it on poster board or whatever else you choose, and hang it up somewhere so it is readily available for him to read.

Insha’Allah, focus on the behaviors that you want to see changed. For instance, if he has a hard time getting up in the morning you can put that on the list as “I will get up at 7am” or “I will finish my homework on a daily basis by 6pm (or whenever you decide) and review it with my mom”.

Think of the behaviors you would like for him to develop and put them on the chart. Please try to keep it to 10, maybe 15 at the most. By getting him in the habit of doing these things, and at a certain time you are creating a “habit”.

Research shows that it takes about 30 days of consistently doing (or not doing) something to create a habit.

In order to encourage him to stick with the behaviors and schedule, you may need to use consequences as you have been doing, only this time insha’Allah put it in chart form next to the behaviors chart.

Again, choose the same amount to equal the behaviors. Choose things you know your child would not like to lose.

Check out this counseling video

When he fails to complete an action/behavior in that day, put an X next to it. For each X on the behavior chart, put another X on the other chart by a consequence listed.

By doing this, it acts as a visual aid wherein he can see what he chose not to attempt. It also helps him to understand how his choices are affecting his day. While the consequences you have utilized thus far may seem to not matter to him, they will insha’Allah once they are made more consistent as well as more undesirable.

For instance, you stated he enjoys going to the park on Fridays and playing with his friends. In addition to not being able to go to the park as a consequence, add on that during that time he will instead clean the garage for example or mop the floors.

By doing this, he cannot use this time to lie around in his room, read, watch TV or engage in another activity that he likes. Insha’Allah after a while he will begin to see from the charts how much he is losing from his choices.

He will also develop an expectation of a consequence which is not pleasant to him. If you decide to implement this method, please do discuss it with him in terms of the rules, the consequences as well as his responsibilities. After that, please do not use reminders, threats or give him second chances.

Insha’Allah, once he gets use to the new structure of doing things you should see his behaviors change after about a month. This will take patience and consistency on your part dear sister, but the rewards will be great insha’Allah.

You stated that regarding school he doesn’t take the time to understand questions but just answers quickly and that he is having difficulty with math words and comprehension problems. It could be that he has not been paying attention in school, thus is behind. This is common.

Talk to His Teacher

I would kindly suggest that you make an appointment with his teacher and discuss his progress in class (as well as any behaviors) to get the teacher’s perspective.

Please do rule out any external factors that may be going on such as bullying. If the teacher is concerned as well about his comprehension and/or behaviors it may be an attention disorder which would require an evaluation. I would ask his teacher if that is a concern and if so you may want to get him evaluated by his doctor.

Attention disorders are common in children and they often outgrow it, but it can impact concentration and learning. However as he is an avid reader, he may just not be interested in math.

Yes, the tutors are expensive. When my daughter needed one for math, I found free tutoring group session in my community by looking online. It met on Saturdays in the library.

You may want to see if there are any in your area. Also, check your Masjid and the Islamic centers to see if there are any tutoring classes or a brother who would be willing to tutor you son for free.

Another good resource is colleges. Often times students need volunteer hours for community orientated classes and you may be able to find someone by putting up a post for tutor wanted/volunteer. You may also want to look into local community centers for further resources.

Insha’Allah your son will pass through this stage just fine. You are a wonderful, loving and concerned parent, and you are doing all the right things to ensure his well-being and growth. He is blessed to have you. Please let us know how he is doing.


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha has a PhD in psychology, an MS in public health and a PsyD. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years at Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. She has worked with clients with mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, trauma, and OCD. She also facilitated support groups and provided specialized services for victims of domestic violence, HIV positive individuals, as well youth/teen issues. Aisha is certified in Mindfulness, Trauma Informed Care, Behavioral Management, Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and Confidentiality & Security. Aisha is also a Certified Life Coach, and Relationship Workshop facilitator. Aisha has a part-time Life Coaching practice in which she integrates the educational concepts of stress reduction, mindfulness, introspection, empowerment, self love and acceptance and spirituality to create a holistic healing journey for clients. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocates for prisoner rights/reentry, social & food justice, as well as advocating for an end to oppression & racism. In her spare time, Aisha enjoys her family, photography, nature, martial arts classes, Islamic studies, volunteering/charity work, as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.