Helping Your Child With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

by | Nov 12, 2019 | Mental Health

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Fall scene text overlay -signs of OCD

As a parent of a child that has been diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) there is a lot to know and learn. After eleven years from the first visit to the psychologist I am still learning what to do. I assumed my role was to reassure my child by providing comfort and a sense of safety to his world. By shielding him from his fears I inadvertently gave in to the monster, which is the disorder.  I had never thought about it like that before reading many articles about the disorder. It is heartbreaking to know that I was feeding the disorder all those years by accommodating to his fears.

WHAT IS OCD?

So let’s go back to defining Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. OCD is a common disorder in which a child has uncontrollable/unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviors that they repeat over and over.  This makes the child anxious and to relieve the stress the child creates rituals for themselves. Many children suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder cannot tolerate uncertainty. Children with OCD feel unable to stop focusing on their obsession. Then start to have a compulsive behavior because they are guarding against bad things that they think could happen.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR:

  • Child has a hard time concentrating.
  • Unsure of why they are feeling so sad or anxious.
  • Take too long at doing routine tasks.
  • Insist that a parent say or do something in the exact way all the time.
  • Has repeated behaviors or rituals. 

HOW TO HELP YOUR CHILD WIth Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

First, if you are noticing some signs of these types of behaviors take your child to see your family physician. Ask for recommendations of a psychologist that works well with children.  A combination of Psychotherapy and medication, if your doctor recommends it, will help your child. An important part of overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is taking part in your child’s therapy.  Practice the things and suggestions given by the therapist. Encourage your child to use the recommendations that were practiced at the therapy sessions.

MY STORY Of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

My child came to my husband and I when he was in fourth grade. He stated that he didn’t feel right, was in tears, and did not know how to fix it and why he felt the way he did. We went to our family physician. He recommended a child psychologist so we went the next week. We talked to his teacher and the school counselor so they were aware of what was going on to help support him if he needed it. He went to a psychologist for a few sessions and then felt like he had tools to use to help himself.

One of the characteristics we noticed was his need to do the same thing before activities or a ritual. Again we made time for him to do his ritual (enabled the monster). A mistake we made was not getting enough information from the psychologist to know what to do to help him. As a result we fed the disorder or what is called the monster.

In middle school and then again as an adult in college, he had some of the same behaviors. It was scary to see him going through it again, but at a different level. So again he went to the same psychologist for a longer period of time and weekly. This time the doctor recommended medication along with therapy (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)  to help overcome this disorder. Thank goodness it helped.

The hard part is knowing, that as his parents, we could not help him enough. As a parent you always want to be the one to help your child. It is heartbreaking to know that your child is going through this pain and you cannot make it go away. My recommendation is to embrace the help of people at school and outside of school to support your child.

boy with head down on knees, obsessive compulsive disorder

It is good to know that he has another adult to help him in life. At least now he knows he has another person to support him if or when these feelings or behaviors reappear. 

For support or guidance from a parent’s perspective please contact us.

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