It’s normal for some children to form routines in their lives or cling to certain rituals that help them to feel secure. To a certain degree, this type of thing is normal but to some children, it goes beyond the boundaries of what is normal and healthy. Obsessions and compulsions can affect the normal function of a child with OCD.
The most important thing you can remember about parenting a child with OCD is that they can’t control their feelings. The OCD child can’t stop worrying and the compulsions that they often pick up are the only way they know how to deal with the worrying and make the fears go away. Trying to force the OCD child to stop certain compulsive behaviors will only cause her more stress and worry.
Because OCD is a type of anxiety disorder, kids with the condition can become preoccupied with something and whether or not it is dirty, wrong or dangerous to them or others. They may obsess other these things even after being reassured that there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes this is frustrating for the parent who doesn’t understand why they can’t calm their child’s fears or why she just “doesn’t get it”.
Kids with OCD might worry about things being out of place, or that things are dirty or out of place. They may horde and collect “useless” things. She may worry about losing seemingly invaluable items or before incredibly stressed at the thought of taking them away or them being thrown away. This can be frustrating to the parent who wants the child to have a clean room and doesn’t understand why they insist on holding onto useless junk.
As a parent of an OCD child, the most important first step you can take is learn as much as you can about the condition, its symptoms and why kids with OCD do certain things. It will also be beneficial to get into family counseling or parenting counseling, in addition to the counseling your OCD child will probably already get.
The OCD child may have fears that seem irrational to you but it’s important not to dismiss them and to understand that your child cannot help having these fears. Instead, try to talk it out and provide your child with security that she needs to feel safe. Don’t fuss or harp on things such as too much soap usage or when your child is being unproductive with tasks or homework. Instead, gently remind her to get back on task or help her by talking about what she may be focusing on that prevents her from getting the work done in a reasonable time.
Being a parent of an OCD child is stressful so be sure you have a good solid support system yourself. There are parenting support groups online and probably in your community as well. A good friend or family member can help you to vent frustration as well so you don’t take it out on your child. Try to stay patient and be forgiving of quirks your child may have as you work through the condition together and create a better quality of life for your OCD child in the future.