Have you as a parent or a guardian ever happen to witness in your child a series of repetitive behaviour patterns or some sort of strong obsessions and unwanted anxiety? Does your child happen to be extremely slow while dressing up or completing homework? Does he or she indulge in constantly erasing written sentences and then rewrite them again till the time he or she feels it’s right? Has the episode of repeating sentences over and over again become an everyday ritual for your child at home? Have you ever caught your kid switching an electronic device on and off over and over again? If these incidences have been occurring on a daily basis there is a major possibility for these to be signs of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).
Most of us might relate OCD to occur only in adults. How is it possible that my child has fallen trap to this disorder, may be a commonly asked question by anxious parents? Various studies conducted clearly indicate that although OCD is known to affect 1 to 3 percent of adults, but almost 80 percent of those happen to start displaying symptoms very early on in life that is before 18 years of age. OCD is a grave ailment characterized by disturbing thoughts and views, repetitive behavioural patterns and high anxiety and stress levels that have a possibility to make everyday situations seem to be intolerable — predominantly for children suffering from this serious condition. It is vital to know that the disorder is not just limited with a fascination for cleanliness, but in reality, it’s an intensely misinterpreted condition that can cause an unwanted mayhem on the child’s day-to-day childhood activities like playing with friends, going to school, or enjoying hobbies.
Symptoms of OCD
There is a strong possibility for parents to confuse the disparate OCD symptoms with that of ADHD, depression, or generalized nervousness. Hence it is very significant to conduct an exact diagnosis, as appropriate and timely medical treatment for OCD is important to manage and bring anxiety levels under control and majorly to allow your child to retain control over his or her life. Below mentioned are some symptoms that are typically displayed by a child or adolescent suffering from this mental disorder.
- Repetitive obsessions characterized by unwanted, intrusive thoughts, ideas, visual images and fears that incite fretfulness in the child’s mind.
- Certain compulsions or mental acts are carried out by the child to reduce or to get rid of the anxiety produced by the obsessive thoughts.
- The mean age at which it presents in children is between 7-12 years of age.
Causes of OCD
There is no clarity on what exactly causes obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It’s very common for children to develop OCD if family members show a history of disquiet or if the child has been through a traumatic event. One can never blame the child or the parent if in case a child develops OCD. Children with OCD will continue to do their rituals even if they’re penalised for performing them.
Examples of obsessions faced by the child include:
- The child may display an extreme obsession with cleanliness and an urge to prevent themselves from germs, dirt or illness at an early age. This can be noted by the child continually washing hands and legs after returning home from play or school.
- Expresses recurrent doubts on aspects like whether the notebook is complete or not
- Excessive fixation with symmetry, order and exactness
- Excessive drive to know or remember facts that seem very trivial
- Unreasonable attention to detail
- Aggressive thoughts and urges (may be more likely in teens)
Examples of compulsive behaviours in OCD kids may include:
- Washing hands excessively and frequently over about 100 times a day
- Constantly checking their notes or handwriting followed by excessive counting and recounting of numbers.
- Regular repetition of words spoken by self or others or repeating sounds, words, numbers or music notes again and again.
- Rigidly follows self-imposed rules of order like arranging personal items in the room in a particular way and becoming very upset if someone disrupts the arrangement.
- Constantly and overly asking the same questions and insisting on parents or teachers to answer the same.
Treatment of OCD in children
This disorder can be effectively treated in children, particularly if diagnosed early on. Medical experts typically use a grouping of therapy and medication. OCD therapy usually encompasses a mental behavioural therapy approach. Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) signify the most operative class of medications for the treatment of OCD in children, adolescents and also in adults. The physician or mental health professional may also suggest family therapy owing to the fact that parents play a fundamental role in their child’s treatment and phase of recovery.
Managing Anxiety Levels in Kids
You as a parent can aid your child by putting together some functional strategies for handling doubts and facing fears and dreads. These approaches might include:
- Try and indulge your child in relaxation exercises like deep breathing, muscle relaxation and yoga and meditation
- Start the tactic of positive self-talk with your kids. For example, instead of discouraging them, keep telling them ‘Yes I can stop doing this’, ‘I will be OK if I don’t perform this activity’. Try distracting your child’s attention by making him read a book or by showing him some educational programme. This will distract him from worries.
- You can set small challenges for your child, and use rewards and prizes to facilitate him accomplish them. When your child successfully achieves the test, he or she gets a suitable reward. For example, a child who constantly has the habit of washing hands will earn star stickers if he or she lets dirt stay on his hands for a longer period of time before washing and restricts the washing to just one time.
It may take you a lot of your energy to tackle your toddler suffering from OCD. The endless monitoring can be annoying and draining. But always remember your effective parenting skills can go a long way in correcting your child’s behavioural issue. The final aim is to slowly help your child cut down on the habitual compulsive behaviour. After all children with OCD only demand for unconditional love, support and your encouragement, to make the most of their abilities.