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Dear ADDitude: How Do We Prepare a Child with ODD for Kindergarten?

“My grandson was kicked out of 4 preschools before his diagnosis of ADHD and ODD. He takes Ritalin twice a day, which helps with his attention but does nothing for the behavior. What can we do now to get him ready for kindergarten?”

ADDitude Answers

It sounds like you are having a tough go of it. Here’s what I would do: Start talking to your pediatrician about the behaviors you are seeing. It might help to request a referral to a behavioral therapist who can work with you on setting up rewards and consequences appropriate for his age. Try keeping a daily log of the behaviors you see, and note the strategies you have used to try to improve them. This is a concrete record to share with the doctor.

Posted by Eileen Bailey
Freelance writer, author specializing in ADHD, anxiety, and autism

ADDitude Answers

You can have a preschool-aged child evaluated by the school system under the early intervention program. I highly recommend starting that process now. If necessary, they will provide some services and this can lay the groundwork for kindergarten. They need to call their local board of ed and explain what you did here and they will be routed to early intervention.

Posted by Penny
community moderator, author on ADHD parenting, mom to teen boy with ADHD, LDs, and autism

A Reader Answers

I have been in those shoes! My 6 year old son’s behavior issues started in preschool. He would get angry, then hit, bite, head-butt, and kick adults.

I would recommend having a conversation with the school, and ask that your grandson be evaluated for an IEP. If he qualifies, they are required to put accommodations in place to help him be successful. We found out that my son has a higher than average IQ, and a lot of his bad behavior came out when he was bored. The process can help you figure out what triggers outbursts.

I can tell you that finding the right medication combination takes time and patience. Stimulants made my son’s behavior worse. He is now on Tenex and Prozac and things aren’t perfect, but they are better. He went from daily behavior issues to problems about once per month…much improved!

Therapy is helpful, but one of the best things I have done is take a parenting “Love and Logic” class. My son responds surprisingly well to the techniques that they taught.

This quote by Steve Jobs has brought me some peace in those times of chaos and helps me realize that this too shall pass. “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently-they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Best of luck! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. These emotionally dysregulated kids will grow up and be amazing one day.

Posted by Krispyrn

[Free Download: 3 Defining Features of ADHD That Everyone Overlooks]

A Reader Answers

I went through something similar with my now five year old son. The school was already threatening to kick him out when he started pre-k, so I want to speak with the principal and explain his condition. She was not understanding, but I reminded her that the law protects my son. Sometimes the school, or the teachers aren’t the right fit. My son was fine after I moved him to a new school. Be your child’s advocate, and don’t accept No from school staff.

Be patient. It will help you deal with the outbursts, head banging, and temper tantrums. Remember that deep down, that child wants to be normal, but impulsivity plays a big role in their lives. Put consistent rules and rewards in place to help them mange.

There is good in our children. Don’t give up on them. You are their voice that can speak when they don’t know what to say.

Posted by DeterminedtoUnderstandADHD

A Reader Answers

I was a preschool teacher and I always told the parents that if you don’t feel like your child is ready for kindergarten behaviorally, then hold them back a year, but keep him in Pre-K so that he can still work on his social skills and learn how to work in a classroom setting. The extra time is often what kids need to mature a little more and practice emotional control. The benefit of Pre-K is that there are usually smaller class sizes.

Our state ratio here in California is 12 to 1, that’s 12 students to 1 teacher, and preschools often maintain an even lower ratio. They will have more staff available so that your child will get more support and attention that extra year. It’s also easier to go into kindergarten late than be held back again while all of your friends move up to 1st grade.

Posted by RissaM

A Reader Answers

My son’s special ed teacher adopted a new plan this year inspired by his love for LEGOS. For every day that he does not get a time out for misbehaving, he gets a LEGO piece. After 10 pieces have been earned, he gets to take them home. He brought his first baggie of LEGOS home last week and was so PROUD! We also have a notebook that we use on a daily basis to communicate his progress and issues. The LEGO idea has really been great!

Posted by Frustrated Mom of 5 y rOld ADHD Excess Energy Accommodation

A Reader Answers

When my son started kindergarten, I scheduled a meeting with the teacher and counselor before the school year began. We set up a rewards program just for my son. It was similar to the one she used for other children, but she broke it down into smaller chunks of time for him. If she saw that he was losing control or needed some time, she would have him go to the counselor’s office and the counselor would play some quiet games with him. His teacher emailed me daily so I could talk with him about his day when he got home. By working closely with the teacher and counselor, it went much better than I had ever dreamed it would–especially after his previous behavior issues. Luckily, he had a teacher that was willing to work with us and really played towards his strengths.

Posted by Angela K

[Problem Behavior, Solved]