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How to Help a Child with OCD at Home

September 3, 2021

Being a caregiver for a child is a responsibility as much as it is a joy. We all want to do the best we can for the children in our care, and that means understanding what conditions they might have and how best to manage them.

The International OCD Foundation estimates that around one in every 200 children has OCD, coming out at roughly 500,000 children and teenagers. Here is what you need to look out for as early signs of OCD in children and how you can best support a child with OCD in your care.

What is OCD?

OCD stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and can be diagnosed anywhere between preschool and adulthood.

OCD occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are defined as unwanted and intrusive thoughts or urges that often trigger distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease their distress.

OCD in children can affect the entire household, including parents, caregivers, and other siblings. It’s important you know how to support your child and empower them to manage their urges and compulsions.

OCD Symptoms in Children

There are some common signs of OCD in children that can alert you to it before an official diagnosis. They include:

  • Worrying about germs, getting sick, or dying
  • Repetitive compulsions during hygiene or grooming routines
  • Extreme fears about bad things happening or doing something wrong
  • Feeling that things have to be “just right”
  • Disturbing and unwanted thoughts or images about hurting others
  • Disturbing and unwanted thoughts or images of a sexual nature

Keeping an eye out for these signs can make sure the child in your care gets the support they need and can enjoy a happier life.

How to Help Children with OCD

Of course, you want to help and support your child as much as possible with their condition. Here are some tips based on OCD research that can help you empower them as much as possible:

  • Avoid any OCD triggers. Triggers can vary from person to person, but are essentially anything that causes serious emotional distress to the individual. Identify what they are for your child and try to reduce their exposure to them. 
  • Try Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). There are special forms of CBT designed specifically to treat OCD that may prove helpful for children. 
  • Do not accommodate or draw attention to OCD. Try to have conversations with your child and as a family that do not focus on OCD. Often, spending too much time talking about the condition can almost reinforce the obsessions. On top of that, if your child is pursuing an urge, try not to assist them. For example, if they ask you to open a door a certain amount of times, do your best not to do so, even if it feels hard. To do so will only strengthen the compulsion and reinforce the urge.
  • Approach with understanding. It may seem like your child is being deliberately confrontational or difficult at times. Remember that it is often equally distressing for them to experience their compulsions. Treat them with compassion and patience. 
  • Seek support for yourself. Don’t be afraid to seek support for yourself. It can be tough to see a loved one go through something as difficult as OCD, so find a support group or therapist. There’s no shame in asking for help!

If your child is suffering from OCD, know that you’re not alone. Contact Best Care today to learn more about your options for home care services and how to find a qualified family PCA to help you or your loved one live independently and without fear!

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