Boy refusing his dinner because he has OCD

1 in 50 people are thought to have OCD. Whilst symptoms can be relatively mild, the disorder may also be quite serious and prevent both adults and children from getting on with things in everyday life.

Are you worried about your child’s obsessive and compulsive behaviour?  My Family, Our Needs has teamed up with YoungMinds to help you get the information and support you and your family need.

What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD is a serious anxiety-related disorder. It is made up of three parts:

  1. Obsessions, the thoughts that make you feel anxious.
  2. Anxiety.
  3. Compulsions or things you do to reduce the anxiety, such as rituals.

Obsessions are intrusive thoughts or ideas that come into people’s minds when they do not want them to. They can be distracting and distressing.

Compulsions are things that people feel they have to do, even when they do not want to –for example, repeatedly checking the light is switched off –and they feel frustrated or worried unless they can finish these activities. Both obsessions and compulsions can be an indication of deep-seated anxiety.

If you want to know more about OCD, there are some useful links below.

How to spot OCD

Many children have mild obsessions and compulsions at some time. They may to organise their toys in a special way, or say good night a certain number of times. This is normal and may be the result of anxiety due to stress or life changes, such as a new sibling or starting school.

But sometimes it is just too difficult for a child or young person to face their feelings and their mind will take over. In these circumstances, they become preoccupied with a thought, idea or action rather than dealing with the underlying feeling. They may feel they have to do certain actions otherwise bad things will happen to them.

Treating OCD

There are different types of treatment or help on offer. Your GP will be able to take you through the options and work out what is the best treatment for your child.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy or CBT is a common form of treatment. There are two types of CBT used to treat OCD:

  • Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP involves being exposed to what makes you feel anxious (with the support of a therapist) and attempting not to carry out rituals after this exposure.
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Cognitive Therapy is a psychological therapy, which helps you change your reaction to thoughts that make you anxious rather than getting rid of the thoughts.

It is recommended that children and young people with OCD who have moderate to severe problems with everyday life should be offered CBT.

Medication can also be prescribed for OCD on its own or alongside therapy such as CBT. You can find out more about what medication may be suitable on the YoungMinds website.

If symptoms of OCD are serious and ERP and CBT are not helping, then the GP may refer your child to get specialist help from a child and adolescent psychiatrist who would be able to discuss further treatment.

Finally, OCD is a serious condition but it is treatable as long as your child gets the help they need. Young Minds has a Parents Helpline if you need advice on how best to support your child.

How to get help

The YoungMinds Parents Helpline can provide you with support on how to help your child. The Helpline is open 9:30am – 4pm Monday to Friday and offers free confidential advice for any adult worried about the mental health of a child or young person up to the age of 25. For details of the helpline click here.

With thanks to YoungMinds. Does your child have OCD? Are there things you do on a daily basis to manage their condition? Let us know @weareMFON or

Useful Links:

National charity working with children and adults whose lives are affected by OCD.

Rethink Mental Illness
Provides advice and information to everyone affected by mental illness.

Triumph Over Phobia (TOP UK)
A charity which aims to help sufferers of phobias, OCD and other related anxiety disorders.