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Disobedience, dishonesty, and disrespect can be too much to bear

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Behavioral disorders can lead to bullying

When people think about bullying many imagine something like this: one child yelling at another to give up their lunch money. But the reality of bullying is very different and unfortunately much more severe. Did you know that over 70% of students report that bullying is a problem at their school? And that about one out of ten middle school kids drop out of or change schools due to bullying

Broadly speaking bullying can be defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves some kind of power imbalance. Bullying isn’t limited to physical abuse – verbal, emotional, and cyberbullying are also common in many schools. Although bullying is commonly associated with kids and adolescents it also impacts adults.

Helping a child through a bullying situation can be complicated and often requires collaboration between parents, kids, teachers, and school counselors. If you are concerned that your child is being bullied it is especially important to ask your child how their day at school went. Because some children feel embarrassed about being bullied, asking about this topic directly may not help you find an answer.

Bullying can contribute to students feeling socially isolated, worthless or depressed. In addition, the psychological effects of bullying can last well into adulthood and increase a person’s chance of experiencing things like anxiety disorders.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
Conduct Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Anxiety Disorder
Bipolar Disorder
Learning Disorders
Conduct Disorders


Defiant behavior
drug use
criminal activity

Disruptive Behavior Disorders

Disruptive behavior disorders are among the easiest to identify of all coexisting conditions because they involve behaviors that are readily seen such as temper tantrums, physical aggression such as attacking other children, excessive argumentativeness, stealing, and other forms of defiance or resistance to authority. These disorders, which include ODD and CD, often first attract notice when they interfere with school performance or family and peer relationships, and frequently intensify over time.

Behaviors typical of disruptive behavior disorders can closely resemble ADHD—particularly where impulsivity and hyperactivity are involved—but ADHD, ODD, and CD are considered separate conditions that can occur independently. About one third of all children with ADHD have coexisting ODD, and up to one quarter have coexisting CD. Children with both conditions tend to have more difficult lives than those with ADHD alone because their defiant behavior leads to so many conflicts with adults and others with whom they interact. Early identification and treatment may, however, increase the chances that your child can learn to control these behaviors.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Many children with ADHD display oppositional behaviors at times. Oppositional defiant disorder is defined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) as including persistent symptoms of “negativistic, defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviors toward authority figures.” A child with ODD may argue frequently with adults; lose his temper easily; refuse to follow rules; blame others for his own mistakes; deliberately annoy others; and otherwise behave in angry, resentful, and vindictive ways. He is likely to encounter frequent social conflicts and disciplinary situations at school. In many cases, particularly without early diagnosis and treatment, these symptoms worsen over time—sometimes becoming severe enough to eventually lead to a diagnosis of conduct disorder.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder is a more extreme condition than ODD. Defined in the DSM-IV as “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age appropriate social rules are violated,” CD may involve serious aggression toward people or the hurting of animals, deliberate destruction of property (vandalism), stealing, running away from home, skipping school, or otherwise trying to break some of the major rules of society without getting caught. Many children with CD were or could have been diagnosed with ODD at an earlier age—particularly those who were physically aggressive when they were younger. As the CD symptoms become evident, these children usually retain their ODD symptoms (argumentativeness, resistance, etc) as well. This cluster of behaviors, combined with the impulsiveness and hyperactivity of ADHD, sometimes causes these children to be viewed as delinquents, and they are likely to be suspended from school and have more police contact than children with ADHD alone or ADHD with ODD.

Children with ADHD whose CD symptoms started at an early age also tend to fare more poorly in adulthood than those with ADHD alone or ADHD with ODD—particularly in the areas of delinquency, illegal behavior, and substance abuse.