How untreated Childhood Obsessive Compulsive Behavior can negatively impact a family’s interaction in their community.

 Obsessive and compulsive behavior does not just affect a child; it affects the family as a whole. Many parents struggle with supporting their child that has OCD because the family typically has internal conflicts among family members and social isolation. All family members struggle, parents who cannot participate in family social events, siblings who are argue over disruptive behaviors, and the child with OCD suffers due to the difficulties of making and maintaining friendships.

Let’s discuss basic needs for all family members before we go into detail about how to treat the OCD symptoms. First, parents always need to ensure they are meeting their own needs. Parents typically sacrifice for their child and many times will neglect their basic needs, social life, and leave their profession to assist their children. This is a noble effort but, parent neglect may increase the intensity of these symptoms because neglect leads to parent fatigue.

So what is Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in basic terms? Well, major results of OCD include Obsessive, Repetitive, and Ritual behaviors. The behaviors are typically maintained by fear and anxiety. Many children struggle with fears of being mortally injured or becoming fatally ill. An example many parents see are when their children refuse to eat in certain places due to the food being “Dirty,” and chronic hand washing for children terrified of germs. These symptoms are not isolated to just children but, these behaviors severely impact a child’s normal social functioning. The belief that the repetition of the behaviors will keep them safe, firmly plants the socially crippling behavior in their life.

Many times children struggling with Obsessive and Compulsive behaviors are unable to explain their behavior and feel ashamed by their feelings. Due to the shame they attempt to keep their struggle as much of a secret as they can, even from their parents. An example I have encountered of these behaviors as a Family Counselor was when I worked with a 12 year old girl who refused to eat at other people’s homes outside of the family’s home. She reported that she could not explain why she couldn’t eat at other people’s homes but she was embarrassed to visit during parties and events because she was accused of being rude because she would not eat. Her parents were also embarrassed and upset because their daughter would not eat food that was offered and received ridicule regarding their parenting skills.

In addition, school behaviors are effected as well. In some cases, some children refuse to attend school due to their symptoms.  At one point I worked with a 9 year old boy who refused to return to school because of his anxiety related to the uncertainly of school, the uncleanliness of the environment, as well as the fear of being ridiculed. When he attended school he had been bullied by the other children as well as the school personnel. When he was being re-entered into the school he was terrified he would experience ridicule again and if he started to have symptoms, he not only feared that he would have symptoms but also feared that he would be teased by his peers and caregivers.

Obsessive Compulsive behavior can be difficult to treat, and extremely hard to guide as a parent, but there is hope. Many children respond very well to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Family Therapy, as well as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). In addition, many children find relief working with a pediatric psychiatrist or neurologist for medication management.

Obsessive and Compulsive behavior does not only negatively affect the child but the entire family suffers. Parents re-arrange their life to accommodate their child’s disability and at times feel isolated and many times blame themselves; some parents attribute their child’s behavior to poor parenting skills. Siblings struggle also, many times they feel embarrassed by their sibling’s obsessions and compulsions. In addition, sibling conflict frequently occurs and this conflict places additional stress on the children involved and negative stressors on the parent managing the situation.

Overall, Obsessive and Compulsive behavior, otherwise known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can severely impede a family’s functioning and over all happiness. At the Success Source Troy has a significant amount of experience helping children with Obsessive and Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and uses a unique blend of individual Counseling and Coaching, Family Counselor and Parent Coaching, as well as working (In Vivo) with children and families in real world environments were the obsessions and compulsions are happening. Troy accompanies his clients and families to the root of their difficulty and assists them with developing the skills to thrive.