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OCD in Children — What to Look For

  October 06, 2017

By Renae  Miller, MS MFT, LCPC, Agape Counseling, Ltd.

Parenting school-age children comes with many challenges, but when a parent suspects that their child may have anxiety or another mental health concern, it is even harder. Some research suggests that symptoms of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive Disorder (OCD) appear for the first time around age six, when the demands for academic performance become higher for a developing child. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition that causes kids to have unwanted thoughts, feelings, and fears that make them feel anxious. To cope with these feelings, they engage in certain behaviors called compulsions. If you think that your child is overly anxious or maybe even suffers from OCD, try asking yourself these questions.
  • Does your child refuse to do things, like school, sports, art, or music, that s/he is not able to complete perfectly?
  • Are there things that your child refuses to touch with their hands such as public bathrooms, soil, doorknobs, etc.?
  • Are there actions that your child refuses to do, like using knives in preparing food or using tools out of a possible fear that they would harm another person?
  • Are there words or numbers that your child refuses to look at or say due to fear of doing something “wrong?”
Many people think of OCD in terms of stereotypical behaviors like hand-washing, counting, checking for reassurance, and cleaning. These are certainly present much of the time in adults and children who suffer from OCD. What often gets missed with children is the large amount of normal activities that are either avoided or tolerated with great levels of distress and even tantrums. Anxiety or OCD can often be discovered more easily by noticing what a child avoids rather than what physical symptoms or behaviors they exhibit.

If you believe your child may suffer from these symptoms, help is available and can ease suffering. OCD in children can be easier to treat than in adults due to the fact that behavior patterns are not as rigid when symptoms are first beginning.

For more information, please contact Agape Counseling, 309-692-4433. They are a group of Christian counselors, social workers, psychologists, and support staff committed to a therapeutic process which ministers to the whole person. Their Peoria office is located at 2001 Willow Knolls Dr., Ste. 110, Peoria, IL. They also have offices in Morton and Bloomington. Visit them at
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October 06, 2017


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