What about a child who is obsessive and overly anxious?

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Question:

Do you have any ideas or suggestions for a child who is obsessive? For example, she says, “I need to check the doors 10x or else I won’t fall asleep.” She’s also overly anxious. She doesn’t feel like a real person, so I told her to look in the mirror and she should feel her arms… We also did some looking around and naming things she sees, breathing, etc., just so she shouldn’t feel like she must call her mother to pick her up.

Thanks so much,

Wondering what else I can do

Answer:

Dear Wondering what else I can do,

Thanks for sending in this question. Anxiety and OCD are very closely related. In fact, until recently, they used to be in the same section in the

DSM IV-TR (the manual used by psychologists and psychiatrists to diagnose mental health disorders.) So it’s not surprising that a child with OCD is also anxious.

Here is the tricky part. Both OCD and anxiety disorders are illnesses with excellent specialized treatment, and when done correctly, symptoms can be significantly reduced and go into remission. But it’s something that should be treated by a professional who is trained in these disorders. Therefore, I would highly encourage you to refer out this particular problem and send the child to a licensed psychologist or social worker who has an expertise in this area. It is possible that you initially got involved because the child also had some social difficulties. As a social skills coach and teacher, you can still teach social skills to this child! However, regarding the anxiety and OCD symptoms, please have an anxiety and OCD expert guide the parents for these specific problems.

Having said that, there are fantastic books for parents to use with their children. These books can also give you lots of ideas as well as a better understanding of these disorders. Here are two of them, but there are many other good ones out there.

What to do when you worry too much by Dawn Huebner

When Harley Has Anxiety: A Fun CBT Skills Activity Book to Help Manage Worries and Fears (For Kids 5-9) by Regine Galanti

If your child shares her feelings and you’re not sure how to respond,¬†watch the workshop on validating feelings¬†to learn this important skill!

Get your child to feel comfortable opening up to you!

Have a wonderful week!

Yours,

Dr. Devora

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