How to Involve Peers

Children with OCD are often teased and bullied because of their symptoms. Kids feel very uncomfortable about their rituals, knowing that they’re being watched. It can be helpful to educate the whole class about what’s going on, especially if a child is going to be in the same school for a number of years, and it can inspire a surprising amount of support from other children.

  • Peer understanding program: A peer understanding program includes a presentation in the classroom that explains (with the child participating) what OCD is. The child might say, “Listen, I have OCD. It’s an anxiety disorder. It makes me think that my hands are dirty and I have to wash my hands a lot, so if you see me getting up and going to the sink to wash my hands, that’s why.” Psychologists can role-play with the teacher and child ahead of time, to anticipate questions his classmates might ask, and how to answer them.
  • A buddy system: A buddy is like a peer coach who sits next to the child and prompts him to keep up with note taking and staying on task. It can be great for the buddy, to foster a sense of confidence and pride and to be able to help someone in need, and great for fostering friendship.