Jan 27

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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Teens


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Teens


Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in Children and Teens

Obsessive compulsive disorder is not just a problem that affects adults. In fact, many adults who suffer from OCD had shown signs and symptoms at an earlier age. Here are some facts about the condition.

Because children and teens go through so many developmental stages, some behaviors can be misinterpreted as something else. Anger and anxiety may be attributed to peer pressure, for instance, when it could be a sign of a more serious condition. With teens, at least they can articulate what they are feeling to give a better idea of what is going on with them.

What Is Obsessive Compulsive Behavior?

There are two sides to the obsessive compulsive condition. On one side, you have obsessions. They are described as thoughts and impulses that come out of nowhere. The person suffering from them doesn’t want to necessarily act on them, but feels that they are powerless to control them.

Obsessions can revolve around any type of thought. One is fear. Fear of doing something or succumbing to something can result in thoughts that occupy every waking thought. Here’s an example. A grade school child I knew was convinced that Bigfoot lived close by so he refused to play outside unless there was another person with him.  He was sure something awful would happen to him if he were alone outside.  He new his thinking wasn’t logical but he couldn’t make himself play outside alone.

Another type of obsessive thought may concern impulses. Wanting to hurt or harm someone or yourself is an impulse, especially when nothing has happened to warrant the action. This behavior can scare a teen and make them anxious whenever they are in a situation that triggers it.  My psychiatrist said one common impulse is to curse in church! lolol

Obsessive thoughts can also surround doubts. It is usually one specific doubt that plants itself in the mind. No matter what type of certainty is given, the doubt still persists in the mind.

Having obsessive thoughts can cause untold anxiety in your teen. Unknowingly, you may become a part of their obsession and thus walk into a minefield. Obsession can trigger shouting matches, unruly behavior on the part of your teen, poor grades and isolation.

On the other side of obsession is compulsion. These are ritualistic acts that are performed repetitively as a result of an obsession. Even if the teen knows that the obsession isn’t rational, the compulsive act is a way to satisfy the obsession and reduce their anxiety.

Here’s an example. Using the thought that someone may break in the house, the compulsive act could be constantly checking the locks several times a night whenever the obsession takes hold. This can disrupt sleep and lead to stress from sleeplessness.

Because this is a type of anxiety disorder, seeking a solution would involve professional help. Without therapeutic tools, a teen or young child can feel powerless to understand why they are acting in a strange manner. Through professional support, they learn coping mechanisms that will help them manage their thoughts and be less fearful of them.

Permanent link to this article: https://inspiringwordsfromtheheart.com/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-in-children-and-teens/


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  1. 1

    This is good info to know. I never thought about OCD in children or teens, any time I’ve seen anything about it, it always was about adults.

  2. 2
    Deb E

    I hope parents take the time to really notice these disorders in their kids, or check if they may be present. So many parents are busy themselves and don’t spend quality time with them, much less notice if they’re experiencing difficulty in this area. What a hard thing for a child to admit to a parent too.

    1. 2.1

      So true Deb E and the child may not even know what they are experiencing is abnormal.

  3. 3
    Kimberly Flickinger

    This post was very informative. I am not a parent; however, I will definitely share this with my friends who are parents of teens.

  4. 4
    Jeanna Massman

    This is a very interesting blog post. Knowing the signs of this disorder may help us to seek help for our children at an earlier age.

    1. 4.1

      My son’s symptoms began showing when he was only 8 years old!

  5. 5
    Sam @ Living The Dutch Dream

    We have just the results back that indicate our 8 year old daughter has adhd.

    She is already showing signs of OCD which are brought on by anxiety and fear. You can see them getting stronger as she gets older. She is very particular about many things and very strong willed.

    We are now working with professionals to help her through some of her anxieties. Hopefully she is young enough and with extra help she can overcome some of her fears.

    1. 5.1

      Sam you are wonderful to notice this in your child and get her help. Being so young she should do fine. There will be bumps as she grows and she may test not doing what therapists suggest, but as she grows she will find what works and will find her balance. It’s just wonderful that she is willing to work with some professionals! That’s the biggest hurdle.

  6. 6

    growing up haivng 2 brother that have this one jsut passed but the othe brother went in to the millatary and then he like it but this hit him when he oust and now still handlging it

    1. 6.1

      I hope your brother is able to get his OCD under control. Glad it sounds like you didn’t get it passed on down to you.

  7. 7

    My daughter is learning to manager hers quite well. Its something that has been passed down from my mothers side of the family. We noticed traits very early on…when she was really little it was “cute”. Now that she is older it can be bothersome for her and others.

    1. 7.1

      So good she’s learning early! It has been on the maternal side of the family for most of us….I recognized it in my son when he was young. He didn’t want to think he couldn’t manage it without meds…but he’s doing very well.

  8. 8
    Terri Irvin

    My nephew possibly is showing signs of this disorder and I must send this link to my family members. Thanks for the information.

    1. 8.1

      I hope they seek help for him. My son was so distressed with the symptoms. There is help.

  9. 9
    natasha lamoreux

    I have never experienced any of this with my children but its great information to know. Thanks for the info.

    1. 9.1

      You don’t have children with OCD then 🙂

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