Preparing a Child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder for Kindergarten: What You Need to Know

We’ve all been there at some point: struggling to handle an angry, irritable, or defiant child. However, if these behaviors occur frequently and have a persistent pattern, your child could have oppositional defiant disorder (ODD). The behavioral challenges that come with ODD can make you dread social outings, family dinners, and, especially, the thought of starting kindergarten. But, before you throw up your hands in despair, contact us. We can help.At Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Servicesour team of pediatric behavioral specialists offers a holistic and comprehensive approach for complex disorders like ODD to help children thrive and flourish in their families and society as a whole.Here’s how to recognize signs of ODD and how you can help your child succeed when they’re getting ready to start kindergarten.

Learning to recognize ODD

It can be hard to separate the symptoms of ODD from the normal behavior of an emotional or strong-willed child. However, we usually see signs of this condition during a child’s preschool years, and they often significantly impact the entire family, school, and social activities.

Common signs of ODD include persistent patterns of:

  • A short temper
  • A resentful, angry, or irritable mood
  • Argumentative and defiant behavior, especially with adults or authority figures
  • A defiant response to rules or requests
  • Taking steps to deliberately upset or annoy others
  • Blaming others for mistakes or bad behavior
  • Being vindictive or spiteful

These behaviors can vary from mild to severe but usually exist for at least six months.

The cause of ODD

Between 2–16% of the population could have oppositional defiant disorder. The exact cause of ODD isn’t completely understood, but it’s likely due to a combination of factors, including genetics and environmental conditions. Unfortunately, without treatment, children with ODD can struggle to make and maintain relationships, perform at school and work, and they have higher risks of substance abuse and suicide.

It’s also common for kids with ODD to experience other disorders, including:

  • Autism
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Conduct disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning and communication disorders

Fortunately, by taking the right steps early on, you can help improve the negative behaviors associated with ODD, restore your child’s self-esteem, and provide the tools your child needs to build positive and healthy relationships for the rest of their life.

Managing ODD

The first step to managing oppositional defiant disorder is receiving an accurate diagnosis. At Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Services, we start by performing a comprehensive behavioral assessment to determine your child’s specific strengths and weaknesses and to evaluate their unique needs.

After reaching an ODD diagnosis, we develop a personalized treatment plan to help increase their needed skills and decrease their problematic behaviors. One of the ways to accomplish this is through the scientific techniques of applied behavior analysis (ABA).

ABA therapy focuses on encouraging positive behavior patterns with rewards while also working with parents and caregivers to ensure everyone understands the appropriate responses to negative behaviors. The key to ABA is consistency, so that your child can learn and practice important skills needed in everyday society while decreasing behaviors that are interfering with their well-being and those around them.

The best way to help a child with ODD entering kindergarten is finding treatment as early as possible. If you think your child could have oppositional defiant disorder, contact our North Scottsdale, Arizona location by calling 480-410-4040 or by booking an appointment online today.