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Resources to Help Kids Thrive

This newsletter contains a weekly update of content from featuring parenting advice, in-depth articles, and the latest thinking on children’s mental health and learning disorders.

OCD in Children

April 2, 2024

Since children can’t express their feelings as clearly as adults can, we often underestimate how powerful those feelings can be. Kids with OCD, who may be as young as 6, can have overwhelming, even paralyzing fears that they aren’t mature enough to understand. The rituals they develop — lining things up, tapping a certain number of times, touching things in a certain order, repeated hand-washing or asking for reassurance — serve to repel these fears, or obsessions, but they come right back.

This week on, we take a close look at some of these outsize worries in kids with OCD. In addition to the common fears of contamination, or that something catastrophic will happen, kids with OCD often develop an intense fear of vomiting. They may worry about doing (or thinking) something violent. Some kids become distressed by sexual thoughts, or by fears that they may break religious rules or offend God. Some are even plagued by thoughts of suicide — a fear that is sometimes confused with being suicidal. And we explore the gold standard treatment for OCD, which is specialized to address a child’s particular obsessions.

– Caroline Miller, Editorial Director | 

Related Resources

Fear of Vomiting

Shame and secrecy complicate an obsession common in children.


How to Help Kids Worried About 'Bad Thoughts'

When children feel guilty about disturbing thoughts and can't stop confessing.


Religious OCD

When the motivation for intense devotion is anxiety, not faith.


Sexual Obsessions and OCD

Explaining an often-misunderstood symptom of OCD even in young children.


When OCD Triggers Suicidal Thoughts

How a form of OCD can be mistaken for being suicidal.


What Is the Best Treatment for OCD?

Exposure with response prevention is the gold standard.


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