Skip to main content

I have an LD student who is oppositionally defiant. Academically, he is quite capable of doing his grade level curriculum other than reading. The problem is motivating him. I have created a separate Behavior Intervention Plan for his behavior, but this particular student just does not care what he does or what rewards or consequences are attached to his plan. He ends up spending way too much time in “time out” not learning anything other than his General Ed teacher gives him strikes to place him in “time out” and out of her classroom.

In the student interview, he told me nothing motivates him, he hates school, doesn’t need school, won’t do his work no matter what, and wants me, his special education teacher, to leave him alone. Any suggestions before he ends up suspended from school as a third grade student? Anything you can suggest will be helpful. Thank you in advance.


After 40 plus years of practicing Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, I have yet to meet an eight-year-old who did not want to please his parents and teachers. Most kids hate school if they cannot perform at the level required. The question is not why he is not motivated. The question is what is keeping him from being successful. The oppositional behaviors and avoidance are his way of not doing tasks that either are too hard or that he is unable to do.

Don’t join with the teachers and “blame the victim.” Request formal testing to clarify why he is having difficulty. For more on diagnosis, see the LD OnLine section of Evaluation/LD Testing and my article What Do You Do If You Suspect Your Child Has a Learning Disability.

Back to Top