OCD

Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health condition that involves repetitive, intrusive, and impulsive thoughts and images entering the mind, causing intense anxiety. As a result of this anxiety, the child or young person engages in compulsive or repetitive behaviours designed to ease their anxiety. They then obsessively repeat these behaviours to rid themselves of the anxiety, causing detriment to their daily life.

Signs of OCD in children to look out for as a parent are lining up toys or colouring pencils in an orderly line obsessively and having a strict routine with how they organise their bedroom. Although these behaviours are not necessarily a cause for concern initially, if practised ritualistically over a long period of time, it can be a sign of OCD.

A common obsession is around germs and contamination – a child or young person worries that they have bacteria on them that will make them ill and in turn make people they love ill. They may engage in long ritualistic washing to rid themselves of the perceived germs and dirt, causing their skin to be dry and irritated. A fear of germs and contamination may make them apprehensive to step into public transport or a hospital for fear of contracting a disease or getting dirty.

Another compulsive behaviour which can develop is about order and symmetry – having control over their surroundings and sticking to a routine. Repeated checking of things such as taps or locks in a compulsive manner is also a cause for concern. The child believes if they do not continue with these compulsive behaviours, something bad will happen to other people, their family or themselves – continuing the vicious cycle.

The child or young person often recognises the behaviours are not normal and may become extremely good at hiding their compulsive behaviours, making it difficult as a parent to notice these destructive behaviours. Despite this, there are physical signs that your child may be suffering with OCD. As mentioned earlier, if your child has dry, irritated hands, seeks constant reassurance of their actions and lines up their toys in a symmetrical orderly manner, these can be clear indicators of OCD, particularly if they take up an hour or more of the child’s time in a day.

If you notice your child developing OCD symptoms and they persist for a long time, you can contact your GP and get a referral to the child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) as it is important your child receives the right treatment at the right time.

To learn more, watch our video on how to parent a child with OCD and Olivia’s story with OCD from a young age.  You can also visit our Where to get Help page.

Watch our Films

OCD in Children Information Film

A child with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is likely to experience both intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive behaviours (compulsions). Although many children can experience some of these symptoms at some time in their lives, they are normally a sign of OCD when they start to interfere with normal daily activities. This film explains how to identify and help a child showing the symptoms of OCD.

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now

OCD and Me: Real Life Child Mental Health Experiences

In this film Olivia gives an honest and detailed account of her personal experience of the Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) which she had since the age of eight but wasn’t diagnosed till she was 15.  It is an eye opener and should be watched by everyone who wants to understand what a person with OCD constantly goes through.

People may think that OCD is all about washing, checking, cleaning. These Repetitive Behaviours that we can see, are called Compulsions or Rituals. But what people cannot see are the Intrusive Thoughts which are called Obsessions. They are like a bully in the person’s head that keeps nagging that harm is going to come to them or to their loved ones if they do not complete the compulsions.

Nip in the Bud strongly believes that early intervention and support for children ensures far better outcomes.

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now

Parenting a child with OCD: Kitty

Kitty and her husband Daniel co-founded the charity Nip in the Bud. In primary school their daughter often worried about harm coming to herself and others.  She was finally diagnosed with OCD when she was 16. Their daughter is happily married, with a lovely child and a successful career, but the OCD continues to affect her life.  If there had been more information about OCD in those days and it had been nipped in the bud when she was nine years old, the condition would not have become entrenched.

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now

How to Recognise Symptoms of Compulsion/OCD

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now

How to Recognise Symptoms of Obsession/OCD

Read and download our fact sheets, watch more videos or sign up for our mailing list and free interactive guide.

Watch Now