Parents of Children With OCD.
This page is specifically for parents who have a child who has OCD. Isn't always easy to know what to do when you first realize your child has a problem and you suspect it might be OCD. Finding professional help will be 1 of the first steps you should take as a parent. Just know that with approximately 1 out of 200 OCD kids in the USA, your child and you as a parent aren't alone in this.
However high prevalence alone doesn't take away the stress for your child and high prevalance doesn't make OCD any less of a secretive disorder.
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Does My Child Have OCD?
A child may develop OCD at the peak age of 10 or as early as age 2 or 3. Seeing the early signs of OCD in a child may prove to be difficult due to the secretive character of the disorder. Like most adults with OCD will OCD kids go to great extents to hide their obsessions and compulsions. The difference is that the chances of a child knowing they may be in need of a psychologist/help are slim.
The child finds itself confused by the thoughts and rituals it is having and will in most cases conclude they must be "crazy" or strange. So they will hide all this from family and peers and undergo all of this in solitude and silence.
Your child may try hard to hide their OCD behavior because they feel they are dumb or crazy, neither being true.
Hints of OCD may show through, but the unknowing parent may at first only see a difficult, lazy or unwilling child. But since OCD tends to get worse when left untreated, it will start to disrupt the child's life more and more and hiding the behavior will become increasingly more complex and exhausting to do. So as a parent the strange behavior may only become apparent some time after the child first started to experience signs of OCD.
But it's important to realize you as a parent are NOT to blame and instead of tormenting yourself with such thoughts you should focus this energy on finding solutions by getting help. OCD treatment will be most effective at an early stage, so start informing yourself. Unless the OCD is no longer able to be hidden, a parent may not know what is going on.
OCD is very time- consuming and stressful to the child and if they have been showing some behavioral problems in the past and are now unable to perform specific simple tasks you should look into finding help.
OCD Children Live in a World Apart.
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Finding the Right Help.
Just like the adult who has to seek professional help in order to get properly diagnosed for OCD, you have to seek out this help for your child. Don't waste too much time speculating what the problem may be. Looking for information to try and figure out what is going on is fine but you have to take this to the next step as soon as possible. For now you could check the list of OCD- Symptoms on this site or go to the following for more child- specific signs to look out for.
Signs of OCD.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder In Children and Adolescents. From the AACAP.
When Your Child Has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Now that you know your kid has a problem and you suspect it may be OCD, you have to see a Mental Health Professional who will make sure finding the solutions will go as smooth as possible for your child and yourself. Start by looking at the pages on OCD Treatments or more specifically go to the page that helps you to find OCD Experts.
Find the adequate help for your child as soon as possible and waste no time with speculating and guessing. Let the process of finding answers start soon and not later.
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Child or OCD Specialist?
Another important issue is whether you should take your child to someone who is specialized in helping children or someone who is specialized in dealing with OCD. Much depends on your child's age. For a younger child it may be beneficial to seek out the help from a person who specializes in helping kids. The treatment options available to kids may sound the same, there are aspects that really have to be child- specific.
Now that you found someone, how do you explain to your child why they are going to go see someone and what that someone is. As adults we may understand what it involves going to see someone for Mental problems (and not even all adults do), but kids are more likely to be confused by the concept.
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How Do You Explain This To a Child?
So how do you explain to your child that they will have to see a Mental Health Care Professional and more importantly how do you explain what their role will be?
Most likely will the person you contacted talk to your child about any of the questions they may have the first time you go see them, but this doesn't mean that you as a parent may not want to explain some yourself beforehand.
Here is a Site which will help you as a parent to find a way to explain to your child what all this is about.
Going To a Psychologist, Psychiatrist, or Therapist.
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Now That The OCD- Diagnosis Is Made.
Now what? Your child has been officially diagnosed with having OCD and hopefully the Mental Health Care Professional has given you some ideas on how to provide that extra support your child may need.
There will be more to this than going to weekly sessions with your child. While you will learn much during those sessions, much of the work will be done at home and you as a parent will have to be an understanding and knowledgable asset in your child regaining it's freedom.
NOTE: Depending on your child's age you will or will not be included in those sessions. When your child is 17 they may not care to have 1 of their parents being present at the sessions and it's best to allow them this privacy.
Now that you know it's OCD, you will do good by informing yourself by looking at WebSites or reading books. So arm yourself with as many facts as possible since it will help you stand by your child in the correct manner. You will know what behavior of yours might be enabling their OCD which will make it easier to prevent that from happening. But you will also be able to more easily understand what you child is going through without them having to explain everything to you.
Look at the following article to get a better understanding of the Diagnosis or what the DSM-IV means.
A Parents' Guide to Childhood Mental Health Disorders/by Ron Huxley, LMFT.
'Hope and Solutions for OCD'
"This is a four-part series that will educate you about the characteristics of OCD, its causes, treatment, strategies for recovery, OCD in the schools, and OCD in the family. All four 20-minute tapes are compiled on one video, for a special price of $39.95 (plus S&H)."
Information is an important tool in helping your child to regain their life.
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Which OCD Treatments Are Available For Children With OCD?
Obviously the treatments available for children with OCD will depend on their age. While the vast majority of people who suffer from OCD are aware that their Obsessions and Compulsions are excessive is a young child less able to see them as such. So the way in which you approach the OCD will have to be adapted in relation to how much the child is able to understand.
Therapy For Children With OCD.
The most popular type of therapy for OCD is Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT. Please check the section on OCD Therapy for additional information or look at the following site which will give an indepth explanaition.
Summary Of The Practice Parameters For The Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
"This summary provides an overview of the assessment, differential diagnosis, and treatment recommendations contained in the Practice Parameters for the Assessment and Treatment of Children and Adolescents With Obsessive-compulsive Disorder."
Medication For Children With OCD.
As a parent it is more than understandable to wonder whether giving your child medications for their OCD is a wise choice or not. Before you make a decision, look into all the information that is out there. Keeping in mind that information will be biased depending on who is providing it to you is important, especially online. So look at sources such as the OCFoundation who don't have a direct benefit from trying to get people to use SSRI's.
Also don't forget that like with any other questions you may have concerning your Child's OCD, you can always turn to the Mental Health Care Professional who is helping your child. Never hesitate to simply ask the questions you have on your mind, that is 1 of the reasons you asked for their help, to get answers.
OCD Medication: Children What Parents Should Know.
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How Do You Offer Support To Your Child?
Maybe 1 of the most effective ways of showing support is by listening. Simple as it may sound, this will offer your child some comfort and make them feel less isolated in this. But remember that not all children will be as open as to come to their parents, in this case just let them know you are there for them, without judging. Remember they are also being helped by their psychologist and so they will always have a place to go to to share their thoughts.
Being their parent doesn't mean you also can or should become their psychologist. Isn't easy to see your child go through this but they will have to find their own personal way and this may mean confiding in you less than in their psychologist. This is 1 reason why finding adequate professional help is so crucial, because it allows your child to always have a place to go to to discuss the more difficult stuff. Stuff which may be too personal even to talk to a parent about.
But like said, leave the door to communication open to them. Get some books that target parents in specific and buy some for them to read. There are a few books that are tailored to kids and depending on the age, you as a parents will be playing an active role into reading the book.
Also acknowledge the improvements they make, however small they may be. Getting positive feedback for the efforts they are making will definitely help them to stay on the right track.
Another important aspect of offering support to a Child with OCD is to involve the entire direct family in this. This means that everyone should be properly informed about what OCD means so it becomes easier to distinguish what behavior is part of OCD and what behavior is simply the child being a child. Avoid criticising the child when in fact it's the OCD which is causing the problem.
Last point that needs to be made is that keeping the family routine going is important. Structure is important as it will make it harder for the OCD to take the upper hand. While you should show understanding to your kid having OCD, you should not create a life that is build around the OCD.
Being their parent doesn't mean you also can or should become their psychologist.
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OCD Support Groups For You and Your Child.
Now besides the informing yourself you could also look into the support that is available in Support Groups. Once more depending on your child's age, you should find Online Support Groups where they will be able to find peers to relate to and who will be able to relate to them.
NOTE: Don't simply allow your child to join any online Support Group. Only few are for kids only and some of the content may not be suited for your young child. Make sure to look whether the Group is properly Moderated and if possible, get in touch with the Moderator and ask for some additional information. Without active moderators a Group or Club is not suited for an under- aged child.
Last but not least, look into finding some support for yourself. It may help you to know you aren't alone and to be able to find other parents to talk to who are going through the same thing as you. You aren't being weak for wanting to be understood nor for wanting support and no, you are NOT sending a message to your kid that they are making life hard on you. You are taking care of yourself which is crucial to do when taking care of a child, let alone a child with special needs. Look into more information on Support and maybe look into joining a Support Group for OCD.
Here are more links to Child- Specific Online OCD Support.
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Information Which May Help Your Child.
Here are some links to articles and sites which contain information about dealing with problems. You could print them out and leave it for them to read, so they can take all the time they need to look at the information. They can still come to you for additional questions. If your child is not yet able to read it obviously will be you as a parent who goes through the information with them.
These articles act as guidelines and you as a parent may have a different approach to discussing these topics with your child. But nonetheless, they are worth looking at if only as a reference.
Talking About Your Feelings.
Why Am I So Sad?
My Life - It's cool to talk about it!.
SOURCE: Canadian Mental Health Association CMHA.
"My Life - It's cool to talk about it! focuses on youth mental health and is designed to encourage teenagers to talk about their mental health concerns and issues before."
Has a PDF file you could download for your teenager to read.
For teens: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
Site For OCD Teens: Teen OCD.
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How To Deal With Your Child's OCD At School?
At home it is easier to provide your child with a supportive and understanding environment. But what do you do when they leave the house and have to function in a school environment instead or are amongst friends? Your child will try to hide their behavior from others, especially their peer and this just adds to them feeling alone and confused. So what could you do to make this easier on and for them?
You could ask their Mental Health Care Professional for advice on how best to deal with this. Also don't forget to consult your child's opinion, they may not wish to have all their friends know about their OCD.
The people you should however always inform about your child having OCD are those directly involved with your child's education. This includes their teachers and if available, the School Counselor. Since the OCD may affect your child's school performances people will have to be properly informed so as to be able to work with the restrictions as opposed to adding to them.
Most kids will feel extra stress and pressure due to the OCD and this reflects in their school work. A uninformed teacher may come to the wrong conclusions and by doing so may simply add to the pressure. Nowadays most people who deal with kids in a professional setting will have some knowledge on the more common Mental Disorders, and are often able to notice OCD before parents may, but this doesn't mean there still aren't some exceptions. If the school doesn't seem to be educated concerning some of the problems caused by OCD, then it may help to discuss this further or even suggest them some reading. There are many books available that will help teachers deal with kids who have a variety of Learning Difficulties, some deriving from the OCD. As a parent these books may also prove to be useful, seeing you may be playing and active part in your child's after- school activities which include homework.
Parents & Teachers Working Together.
New Video: OCD In School-Aged Children.
"School Personnel: A Critical Link in the Identification, Treatment, and Management of OCD in Children and Adolescents"
Special price of $3.50 plus S&H.
A New Booklet from Dr Gail Adams, Educational Psychologist.
"OCD in the Schools."
"Dr. Gail Adams, Educational Psychologist and author of "School Personnel: A Critical link in the Identification, Treatment, and Management of OCD in Children and Adolescents", talks about simple and effective classroom strategies that school personnel may implement to help students who have OCD. She coveys general ,as well as specific solutions for teachers and parents."
School Personnel: A Critical Link ( Available through the Awareness Foundation )
Gail B. Adams Ph.D
A Site with resources on Education for kids with special needs.
Informing your children's teachers is important since for most kids the OCD will in varying degrees interfer with their schoolwork and at times all it takes is for the school to show some extra understanding to ensure your child won't feel increasingly pressured.
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Books For Parents and Their OCD Kid.
BOOKS FOR KIDS.
List of Books Specifically FOR Kids and Adolescents who have OCD.
BOOKS FOR PARENTS.
List of Book Specifically FOR Parents of OCD Kids.
Here is a small selection for you to take a look at.
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