Holding Back an ADHD / ADD Child a Grade in School or Preschool

If you wanted your child to have low self esteem, not believe in themselves, to feel out of place in their world,  to resent you as a parent, and to later rebel against your authority, what would you have to do.  That’s easy, just hold them back in school.

When I was in pre-school and having some difficulties it was suggested that I be held back. This was well before I was diagnosed with ADHD. Thankfully my parents did not do it. This article discusses holding kids back a grade in general and also how it sometimes relates to ADHD prior to a diagnosis.

To begin with, I believe that the only good reason to hold a child back a grade is if there is absolutely no way they can handle the next grade.  Another way to say it is that the child did not successfully complete one grade and therefore is not ready for the next grade.  This is the only good reason.  If a child can handle the next grade then you must advance them.  To not would be like a person passing their driving test and then not being allowed to drive.   If a child is not in school yet then the same rule would apply.  If they are old enough to go to school and can handle the work then you put them in.

Being held back is traumatic for a child even if they are young.   Kids know how old they are and how old their friends are.  If a kid is a year older than everyone else then everyone knows he has been held back.   Its not really that hard to figure out and I don’t understand why parents can’t see this.  I have even heard of an old wives tale that says if a boy is born in the summer he should be held back a year.  Sounds ridiculous to me too.

A common tactic in warfare is to demoralize the enemy until he gives up the will to fight.  The tactic actually works very well.  Unfortunately, too many parents do this to their kids by holding them back unnecessarily and then wonder why the child loses the will to achieve. Your goal as a parent is not to conquer your child’s will or to dominate them.  Your goal should be to encourage them and let them know they can do anything they set their mind to.  You have been entrusted with the welfare of your child and should not break that trust.

You may ask what holding a child back has to do with ADHD. The answer is simple.  If a child has an attention deficit problem it is going to appear as though they are not ready for school when in fact it’s the problem you are seeing and not the childs readiniess.  Having ADHD does not mean you can’t pass a grade in school.  It just means it is going to be more of a challenge.  Starting your child a year after their friends or forcing them to fail a grade does not make the problem go away.  It just labels them.

There were several reasons why my parents did not want to hold me back in preschool or any other grade.  First, they did not want to teach me that the solution to a problem is to quit.  Also, my mom and dad had worked with me and knew that I was able to do the work.  Also, my dad was actually 6 months younger than me when he started school so he definitely did not agree.  Lastly, I have a twin sister who was doing fine in pre-school and there was no way I was going to let her to get ahead of me.  Mostly what I remember is that my parents believed in me.  That helped me believe in myself and I think made a big difference.

In conclusion, I think that parents should consider holding a child back ONLY as a last resort and only after the child has proven they cannot handle the next grade.  Also, I think that a child should at least have some say in the matter and their feelings should be considered.  Think about how it would make you feel before you act.  If you are a good parent then you definately want to make the problem better and not worse.