Obsessions and Compulsions (OCD)
Does your child obsessively check or clean things?
Does your child's obsessions and/or compulsions take up at least an hour of their day?
Do they believe that something terrible will happen if they don't act out their compulsions?
Are these behaviours disrupting family or school activities and routines, or creating frequent arguments?
OCD is a disorder in which someone experiences obsessive, unwanted thoughts or urges that they can't get out of their head, and which may lead to compulsions: behaviours repeated over and over again, such as tapping, counting, self-injury, avoidance of a family member or friend, superstitious rituals, prayer, or repeatedly washing hands or skin, etc. These are often done either in an attempt to stop the obsessive thoughts from occurring, or to feel safe. Most children will not understand why they act this way and the compulsions will feel out of their control. A child with OCD tendencies can often insist on order and rules. This, in turn, can disrupt a range of activities between a child, their peers, and their home and school life. Sadly, for some this may exacerbate additional social issues such as bullying or exclusion.
OCD is challenging, but not hopeless. There are effective and evidence-based treatments that have been shown to work with OCD, primarily Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). Other techniques may include mindfulness, relaxation, breathing exercises, home exercises, ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention), psychoeducation, along with individual and family education.
An OCD diagnosis will bring many things to light, including some sense of relief. Though helping a child cope with OCD, and watching your child go through obsessions and compulsions, can be a difficult journey, reaching out for help is the first step in assisting your child. Congratulations in taking that first step, don't be afraid to take the next!