Identifying the signs of OCD among children and teens
OCD or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder revolves around obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviour around commonplace daily-life occurrences.
Although the discussion of OCD is always around adults, it doesn’t just affect them, but children and teens likewise, Most organizations that provide counselling for children have observed 0.25 to 4% of children develop OCD at a very early age.
In this article, we are about the discuss what is OCD and how to identify the early signs of it to ensure proper counselling for children is provided.
What is OCD?
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, in simple terms, is the obsession with certain ideas or worries, and the constant compulsion to act out in a certain manner, repeatedly, to relieve anxiety or stress.
The onset of OCD before puberty is considered a childhood occurrence, and commonly affects boys. In teens, however, the trend reverses and the characteristics of OCD increase among females.
As most child counsellors stress the facts, children with OCD rarely have an insight into their behaviour and the understanding of their irrational responses, compared to an adult.
Their limitations to comprehend, and verbally elucidating the condition make OCD counselling for children difficult.
Is OCD among children different from adults?
Although the tendencies of compulsion and obsession are very similar among children and adults, the slightest differences make recognizing the disorder in a child difficult.
Signs of OCD behaviour among children is often conflictingly termed as attention issue like ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
One noticeable sign, as well as difference, is the obsession with a daily ritual the child demands. For instance, when a child demands a particular family member to be constantly around long lengths of their activities. Lengthy meal times with that family member, or refusing sleep unless that particular member offers a sleep ritual. Child counsellors refer to this as family accommodation and are associated with severe OCD.
Some counselling for children organizations has identified children with OCD often clinging to certain disturbing events like the death of a family member and don’t allow the thought to fade.
Identify the signs of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Here is a list of identifiable signs of OCD among children suggested by skilled child counsellors.
The presence of some disturbing thoughts and ideas that are recurring in nature. Like violent images, some recurring nightmare cycle, or a constant will to harm people, or themselves,
Constant worry about something happening, or something they are doing, and a feeling they are doing it right, hence would have to redo.
The rigid thought of something has to be in a certain way for it to be right. A very strong obsession with symmetry of alignment of objects and other commonplace items.
Always occupied with the worry of falling ill, or catching some disease. For instance, most children with OCD are germophobes and have a compulsion towards constantly clean themselves and their surroundings.
The obsession towards counting, and rechecking. Is the door locked? Is the homework properly done? Have they packed properly for school? Kids with OCD have a tendency to constantly check and recheck daily activities.
Certain daily rituals have to have the same pattern: bedtime rituals, bathing, meals, and entertainment. The slightest alteration in the ritual can be very disturbing to them.
Some children have a tendency of hoarding certain items: food, snacks, stationery, and likewise, because of the underlying worry of shortage.
Teens with OCD have an affinity towards certain genres of sexually-focused obsession.
While performing counselling for children, several psychologists have noticed, all children and teens suffering from OCD have a tendency to seek reassurance: does their family love them still? Has someone’s feeling towards them changed because they did a certain ritual differently?
Kids and teens with OCD become terrible decision-makers as adults, because of the need for reassurance, and a presence of deep-seated underconfidence.
What are the causes of OCD among children?
Although there is no solid foundation that develops Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder in a child, researchers and psychologists who are adept at the methods of counselling for children have concluded the following factors that may have a role to play…
Trauma: Studies have indicated, certain early-life trauma like abuse, life-changing occurrences, disturbing things, and deaths in the family; often trigger the onset of OCD among children.
Brain structure: A connection has been found between OCD and abnormal behaviour in the frontal cortex of the brain.
Gene: Although there is no such thing as an OCD gene, however, certain alleles of a genome structure might show vulnerability to the disorder. It has been concluded by professionals with expertise in counselling for children, that the behaviour sometimes runs in the family.
Recent studies by BMC Psychiatry on children and teens who have experienced the COVID-19 pandemic show severe and worse OCD and anxiety conditions. These situations point to the necessity of counselling for children all the more.
The importance of Counselling for Children with OCD
As a parent, it is intuitively difficult to accept that your child may be suffering from a mental disorder like OCD. However, when circumstances such appear, it is advisable to turn to therapy and counselling for children.
OCD is best treated by Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Exposure and Response Prevention Therapy (ERP), some psychological treatments we have under our wing.
The goal here is to make a child identify their trigger points, the fear and the thoughts. With effective counselling, a child suffering from OCD and learn to resolve their anxious moments, and how to control their compulsion.