The medical condition we refer to as OCD originates from the name Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Those who suffer from it frequently have uncontrollable and upsetting thoughts known as obsessions. These obsessions are linked to the urge to act according to compulsions that can be unhealthy.

Medical professionals and Christian Counselors explain these compulsions as a type of ritual the OCD sufferers engage with as they try and stabilize their stressful thoughts and feelings.

The first step for any parent who suspects their child has OCD is to book a visit to your family doctor or a mental health provider who will establish whether OCD in children is the cause of their symptoms or if it is a result of other problems.

Treatment for OCD

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a common treatment for OCD in children. This method of therapy looks to teach children skills to calm themselves and so cope better with the obsessive compulsions of their disorder. It has been found to help children learn to face their fears without the requirement to do their rituals.

Alongside therapy, a medical professional may prescribe medication as a treatment for OCD to some children. Doctors will often prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, also known as SSRIs.

Treatment for OCD is often most effective when a parent or caregiver can attend the therapy along with the child. In this way, they can also be exposed to how to coach their son or daughter through the OCD symptoms and assist their child practice the skills they are taught during therapy. The daily support a child can receive from their parents is a valuable treatment for OCD.

Look out for these signs of OCD in children

If your child has a stressful thought, or series of thoughts that keep coming to them day in and day out, it could well become an obsession. The child does not want to think about these things but they feel as if they cannot stop.

Obsessions may also be observed as intense fears or worries. If your child has OCD they may feel abnormally upset and stressed about the following:

  • Things that are not arranged exactly like they want them, especially if they are not straight or even.
  • The possibility of someone being ill, injured, or whether they may die.
  • When something seems wrong and out of place.
  • If a bad thought or fear may come true.
  • The possibility of them touching or being exposed to germs, dirt, or being hurt.

The compulsion side of obsessive-compulsive disorder is seen in behaviors that a child may do to feel better. The rituals may appear to the child as a viable means to handle the thoughts and provide a more stable place from which to relieve fears. The child may feel that if they act in that manner then they would prevent bad things from occurring.

If your child acts in these ways, then it will be worthwhile to find out more about treatment for OCD.

  • Feel, drum fingers, or walk in unusual ways.
  • Repeatedly set objects out in a particular arrangement.
  • Often repeating words, phrases, and sometimes questions.
  • Having many doubts and experiencing trouble when making choices.
  • Wanting to wash and clean things more than needed, such as repeated handwashing.
  • Taking an extraordinarily long time to complete tasks such as getting dressed, showering, eating a meal.

Children have been known to include parents in their rituals, and often at first parents do not realize that it is a ritual. It could be that the OCD child may require repeated reassurance, or that they insist a parent say or do something a particular number of times in the way the child instructs.

Both children and teens can have obsessions as well as compulsions. When it comes to their feelings experts find that OCD is a heavy burden for them.

At first, the ritual side of it may seem like a relief, but rituals take up a lot of time and energy, leaving little time to enjoy other interests. The stressful cycle of OCD thoughts, emotions, and rituals make focusing on school, or even having fun while with friends, more difficult.

As a result of this children may come across as stressed out, anxious, frustrated, easily irritated, despondent, and tired. They become upset when unable to do a ritual and rely on the reassurance of their parents that things will be alright.

What treatment for OCD will be helpful to my child?

Sit down and talk with your child. Bring up what you have noticed and, in a supportive way, listen and show him or her love. Look to adopt this statement into your context, “I notice that you try hard to get your shoelaces the same length. It upsets you when they are not perfect.”

Tell your child know that a doctor may be able to find out more about this thing that makes them concerned and that doctors can make these things better, and that you want to help them too.

Go ahead and ask your child’s doctor for their recommendation of a child psychologist or psychiatrist. This medical expert will then need to spend some time talking with your child as part of their evaluation. They will ask questions about symptoms and, if they diagnose OCD, then they will explain the required treatment.

Be sure to be an integral part of your child’s treatment. Join in the therapy sessions too as part of this will be a chance to observe and learn from the therapist, such as how you can better respond to your child’s OCD symptoms. Learn how you can help your child’s progress without giving in to rituals.

Because managing OCD is a process it will take time and you will need patience. Be sure to go to all the many therapy visits and help practice the things that the therapist shows you. Notice and praise the effort your child is putting in. Express how proud you are of them. And remind them that having OCD is nothing to be ashamed of and that it is not their fault that they suffer from it.

Look out for and get support. Then once you are in a better position, look to give it to other parents. There are many resources and support structures for families dealing with OCD. Listen to the success stories of other parents as they can give hope and confidence in this long and hard journey of treatment for OCD.

Looking for treatment for OCD in children.

Sometimes dealing with and looking for treatment for OCD in children can lead you to feel overwhelmed and depleted, unable to parent as you wish. If you are looking for additional help as you love your child with OCD, perhaps in understanding, diagnosing, or participating in their treatment plan, browse our online counselor directory or contact our office at San Diego Christian Counseling to schedule an appointment. We would be honored to walk with you on this journey.

“Blonde Girl”, Courtesy of Brooke Cagle,, Unsplash+ License; “Reading a Book”, Courtesy of Jonathan Borba,, CC0 License; “Girls Playing”, Courtesy of Getty Images,, Unsplash+ License


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