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148: Helping Your Child Confront Their OCD Fears

n this episode, we delve into the intricacies of OCD fears in children and discover the crucial ways to provide support and understanding to our children when confronting their OCD fears.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition known for its relentless OCD fears and compulsions, can be especially daunting for children. These fears, deeply ingrained within their young minds, drive behaviors and rituals that become their coping mechanisms. Understanding and aiding children coping with OCD fears involves delving into a world where these fears are more than mere concerns; they're disruptive forces affecting their daily routines, social interactions, and mental well-being.

From the distressing intensity of these fears to their effects on school, social interactions, and emotional well-being, it is important that we shed light on the unspoken challenges faced by these young individuals. In this episode, we delve into the intricacies of OCD fears in children and discover the crucial ways to provide support and understanding to our children when confronting their OCD fears.

OCD symptoms and behaviors in children.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) encompasses the experience of having fears that, to the individual, seem irrational, prompting the development of rituals or behaviors aimed at controlling or avoiding these fears. It's like an intense urge to prevent something bad from happening, even if that “bad thing” might not make logical sense to others.

One aspect often overlooked in discussions about OCD is the concept of anxious avoidance, a pattern prevalent in both anxiety and OCD. This involves steering clear of situations or things that provoke discomfort due to the fear attached to them. Recognizing these behaviors in children can be a challenge because mental health, including OCD, largely resides within a person's thoughts and behaviors. Hence, parents might not readily notice these signs.

Behaviors such as seeking excessive reassurance or repeatedly asking for confirmation about fears, even when there's no basis for concern, can be indicative of underlying OCD tendencies. Additionally, there might be persistent and obsessive thinking, leading to a child fixating on specific worries that surface frequently in their language or behavior. Identifying these signs thus becomes vital, especially considering that children with OCD often keep their fears to themselves.

It's important to note that OCD often coexists with other conditions such as PANS (Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome), PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections), and autism. However, not every individual with these conditions experiences OCD.

OCD therapy and empowering children with OCD fears

One common thing I notice in my clients is how they often get involved in accommodating the rituals their child performs, unwittingly perpetuating the cycle of OCD. In our clinic, we conduct intensive therapies and aim to help children comprehend their own OCD because understanding their brain and how OCD functions is empowering; it helps them realize what they can control and work on. This isn't about making them feel that something's wrong; it's about acknowledging their struggles and giving them tools to navigate them.

In therapy, we emphasize the concept that the more the rituals and avoidance behaviors occur, the more the obsession grows. That is why we employ Exposure Response and Prevention (ERP) therapies along with Neurofeedback and PMF (Pulsed Magnetic Field) to alter brain function and behaviors.

Treating OCD in children with exposure response prevention.

The main goal is to break the cycle of negative reinforcement. Often, parents unintentionally fall into accommodating the rituals or behaviors, which can turn into a real nightmare. I've encountered situations where a child's OCD affected the entire family dynamic, like when a sheet was put up in the minivan to separate siblings due to relational OCD. It's a tough situation to navigate, especially during everyday activities like soccer pick-ups.

The real game-changer lies in empowering the child to take charge of their own brain. Once they understand their brain and realize they can control the OCD, that's where the real shift happens. A common challenge parents face is getting their kids to participate in treatment. It's not easy but teaching tolerance for discomfort is a significant part of effective therapy. That is why it is crucial to find the right provider who truly understands this approach.

Resistant kids need guidance to understand that discomfort won't last forever. It involves setting achievable challenges, gradually teaching the brain that those worries won't materialize. This is where the Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) therapy comes into play, coupled with psychoeducation to counter the OCD's grip on the individual.

OCD treatment and management strategies for parents.

To break the cycle of negative reinforcement, coping skills and building a tolerance for discomfort are key. When addressing OCD, it's about learning to accept and manage the smaller, less distressing parts through ERP therapy and consistent practice at home.

Professional guidance is essential in managing OCD, but a substantial part of the work happens within the family environment. Consistency in practicing coping strategies and stress tolerance is crucial to weaken the hold of OCD behaviors. While medications might be part of the treatment plan, the core lies in untangling and addressing the behavioral aspects of OCD.

Creating a calm environment not only calms the individual's brain but also the entire family dynamic. Ensuring a calm brain is also essential, and exploring options like magnesium supplements can aid in this aspect.

You may read the following blog posts to learn more about OCD:

●      Clinical Guide OCD

●      Exposure Therapy OCD

●      5 Helpful OCD Treatments Without Medication

●      Common Types of OCD Intrusive Thoughts

●      5 Herbal Supplements for OCD

Check out these related podcasts:

●    What is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP)?

●     Why is OCD Treatment Resistant?

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147 Therapist-Endorsed

Self-Regulation Strategies

for Children

A Practical Guide For Parents

147 therapist endorsed self-regulation strategies for children a practical guide for parents
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