He is terrified of germs. Absolutely terrified. Going out to eat is nearly impossible, because your son can’t touch the door to get into the restaurant, the table, or even the utensils without feeling the overwhelming urge to wash his hands. If he can’t, he has a meltdown. All you wanted was to have a nice dinner out as a family. You want to empathize with him, but it’s hard, because it seems so irrational, and pointing that out only seems to make things worse. Or perhaps your daughter is overwhelmed by the feeling that her homework, her room, how she ties her shoes, or anything that she does has to be just right.
Any disorder, disorganization, or deviation from her routine is completely unacceptable, and she has to start all over again. You know that this is hurting her, but what can you do to change these patterns? What can you do to stop her from obsessing?
Maybe your child is afraid of something terrible happening to them or a family member, or even thoughts of being the person who commits the terrible act. Should you let them sleep in your bed, just one more night, to given them (and you) peace of mind?
The parent of a child with OCD faces a constant battle between trying to live a normal life, and trying to keep the peace.
What is OCD?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is one of the most misunderstood mental health disorders. It is characterized by obsessive, intrusive thoughts and fears that often lead to repetitive, ritualized behaviors that seek to relieve these feelings of unease. These feelings are often irrational, which the person may or may not be aware of, yet any deviation from the soothing rituals that they have developed is the cause of great stress and worry.
OCD is often portrayed in popular culture as a quirky, but ultimately harmless affliction that isn’t really a big deal. “I can’t step on that crack in the sidewalk! Gotta make sure that those bathroom towels are even with each other! I’m so OCD!” It’s made out to be an amusing idiosyncrasy that doesn’t really impact your daily life in a meaningful way.
If you have a child with symptoms of OCD, you know that is not the case. It is enormously disruptive, and even debilitating. Not just for the child who is afflicted with it, but for the family as a whole. Simple things such as eating, sleeping, or using the restroom can become full-fledged ordeals, nearly every single time.
How effective is CBT as an OCD Treatment for Children?
The good news is that effective OCD treatment for children is available, backed by years of research and results. OCD is extremely common, and your child is not strange or broken. Those simple things like eating, sleeping, or using the restroom can go back to being simple again. Those intrusive thoughts of something terrible happening don’t have to keep your child (or you) up at night, nor do they have to be beholden to some unattainable degree of perfection.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a proven OCD treatment for children. According to the International OCD Foundation, those who benefit from CBT treatment see a 60-80% reduction in OCD symptoms, and it is the single most effective OCD treatment for children. CBT provides your child with the framework to conquer their obsessive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
My child has such a hard time facing their OCD.
This is usually the case. That’s why you’re looking for help in the first place, right? In my time working with children at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the UC-Davis Medical Center, and in my own practice, I have helped hundreds of kids who were petrified by the idea of facing their fears by addressing their compulsions and obsessions. By gradually exposing your child to the circumstances that trigger their OCD, they will learn how to manage their thoughts and emotions in a way that they will be able to utilize in their daily lives. Do not underestimate your child’s ability to change and grow.
My child is resistant to the idea of therapy.
Your son or daughter may be resistant for a number of reasons. They may not think that they have a problem. They may be afraid of what their friends would think if they found out that they were in therapy. Perhaps they have grown comfortable with their OCD behaviors, and they wouldn’t know what to do without them.
This resistance is very common. I would encourage you, as the parent, to be assertive with your child’s care. Kids can be resistant to going to the doctor or the dentist as well, but you still take them because you know what is best for them. The same idea applies here. Do not let your son or daughter needlessly remain in this cycle of behavior when effective OCD treatment for children is readily available.
Our schedule is so busy, I just don’t know when we’ll find the time.
The benefits of OCD treatment for children can last a lifetime. This is a long term investment in your son or daughter, and prioritizing therapy over other extra-curricular activities can yield results that extend into every aspect of their life. I greatly encourage you to view therapy in the context of your child’s overall health.
I offer flexible appointment times at four separate locations (Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Eagle Rock), as well as online therapy to help accommodate your busy schedule.
In researching this topic, you have already begun the process of finding help for your son or daughter. Now it is time to take action. I understand that entering into therapy can be a daunting proposition, so I offer a free, 15 minute phone consultation at (424) 262-2014 to discuss what you and your child are going through, as well as a free OCD newsletter that you can use to learn more about this disorder. I have years of experience in OCD treatment for children, helping kids and families just like yours to restore normalcy in their lives. Don’t let your child continue within the cycle of OCD.