Most of us know that Strep can attack our joints. Most of us know that Strep can attack our heart. But did you know that Strep can attack our brain? It hides behind OCD symptoms. It hides behind children who all of a sudden are afraid to eat, afraid to sleep. Who start to wet the bed. Who start to rage. Who start to develop compulsions, tics and struggles they’ve never had before. It hides under the mystery and denial of PANDAS/PANS.
Do you know why child OCD and anxiety can be so hard to get rid of typically? Because most kids subscribe to the OCD and anxiety channel in their brain. It is playing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. You can’t compete with that. A therapist can’t compete with that. Until your child learns how to change the channel in their brain or at least not subscribe to the OCD and anxiety network, little progress can be made.
So how do you get kids to change the channel? It is actually a hard skill for all of us, not just kids. But, it can be done! This week on Ask the Child Therapist Kids Edition I am talking to kids about how to pay attention to what is playing in their head and how to have some say in the programming.
So maybe you’ve heard about Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP), but the ideas of how to do exposures are just not flowing? Developing exposures require a deep understanding of your child’s core fears, while being creative and thinking out of the box.
Having OCD is hard enough, but being a kid or teenager with OCD is even harder. Many children with OCD think they are the only ones suffering with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. They don’t realize that OCD in kids is much more common than they think! They struggle alone and many wonder how on earth they are supposed to beat OCD.
Anxiety and OCD love to hide. They love when kids deny they exist. They love when you can’t see them. They love when they are missed. So it makes sense that the first line of defense in your child’s battle with anxiety or OCD should be communication. When your child learns how to talk about anxiety and OCD – the problems can no longer hide.
So you might be saying, yeah that’s great, but how exactly do I get my kid to talk? Well that might be a bit tricky. Some kids don’t like to talk about anxiety or OCD. Some kids want to deny they are having issues right up until they implode. And some kids just need a little help with how to communicate such overwhelming and often embarrassing feelings.
If you want some creative ideas on how to get kids to talk about anxiety and OCD, have them watch this YouTube video I created just for them. I talk about why it is important that they communicate with you about their struggles and some out of the box ideas on how to do it!
When children are afraid or obsessed with a horrible thought you might think that the best way to help them is to teach them to get their mind “off of it.” Not only is this not effective, it can actually make anxiety and OCD worse. ERP for OCD and anxiety, also known as Exposure and Response Prevention is a counterintuitive therapy that has some parents running in the opposite direction.
But let me tell you why this wacky approach not only works, but is the gold standard for treatment.
Is anxiety and OCD bullying your child? Do you find your child spends much of their time avoiding fears and giving in to their anxiety or OCD bully? Families can feel like they are held hostage by anxiety and OCD. It can feel like every decision, every activity is controlled by this outside force.
It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it is important that your child can see that taking back power is the way to emotional freedom! So how do you do that? Especially if your child is paralyzed with fear or shutdown and won’t talk about it?
If you are dealing with Child anxiety or OCD there is one lethal weapon you are up against….doubt. Almost everything related to anxiety and OCD comes down to doubt and uncertainty. When you conquer doubt, you conquer anxiety and OCD.
Not sure how to do this with your child? Let me know you how…
Your child is refusing to go to school, but you don’t know why. Your child is up all night in a perpetual state of panic, but nothing seems to calm them down. Your child is tapping things and turning the light switch on and off three times, but you have no idea why. Knowing your child has anxiety or OCD is different from knowing what is behind your child’s anxiety or OCD.
You watch the child you once knew slowly disappear. The stress, the worry is slowly consuming them. Morphing them into someone you don’t completely recognize. Is this something you can handle? Are there things you should be doing differently? How are you supposed to know when you should get professional help for OCD or anxiety?
As a therapist, I get asked that question often. Here is my response…
Do you know what is almost worse than having a child with OCD? Seeing your child be surrounded by people who just don’t get OCD. Siblings who tease their brother or sister for their “strange” behavior. Partners who tell your child to “just stop!” Relatives who think they are being helpful when they tell you “they’ll grow out of it.” And teachers who don’t understand how your child can have OCD when they just don’t see it. Explaining OCD to people who just don’t get it can be daunting. OCD can be complicated even for parents to understand.
Your child seems anxious. They are often paralyzed with fear. But, they also have many habits, quirks and tics. How can you tell what is anxiety and what might be OCD. And really – does it matter? It does. The treatment for anxiety and OCD are very different. In fact, some approaches to help anxiety can actually make OCD worse. Also, as parents you will want to respond in a different way depending on whether you are dealing with OCD or pure anxiety. So how can you tell the difference between anxiety and OCD. Let me tell you…
This page is brought to you by nOCD. Download this mobile tool for free! How to Not Get Sucked into Your Child’s OCD Loop Can you open that for me? Can you hand that to me? Can you clean that for me? Can you tell me I will be okay? Can you be sure that won’t happen to me? Can you say that back […]
Your child is starting to talk about “bad thoughts.” They worry they might hurt someone. They worry they might hurt themselves. This behavior is out of the blue. They promise they don’t want to kill themselves, but they worry it will happen anyway. They don’t want to jump in front of a car, but what if they do? They don’t want to stab you, but what if they do? The questions don’t stop there. What if something they do winds up killing those they love? What if they don’t wash well enough, pick up good enough, do things carefully enough. Would that put others at risk? Welcome to the world of Harm OCD. The one OCD theme that has parents running to professionals more than any other OCD theme.
Do you like coffee? I do too. But not every cup of coffee is the same. Starbucks coffee is generally too strong. Dunkin Donuts coffee is liquid heaven. Therapy is the same way. Therapists are like coffee beans…there are a zillion types and not all of them are going to be good. This is especially true if you are looking for a child OCD or Anxiety therapist.