Child OCD: How to Explain OCD to Kids

Her small frame sits, hunched over on my therapy couch. She looks at the ceiling. She looks at the floor. She looks everywhere and anywhere as long as it is not my eyes. Finally, she opens her mouth to speak. “I have bad thoughts.” She whispers. “Sometimes to get rid of them I have to do things in threes.” She sits, waiting for the condemnation. Waiting for the concern and judgment to ooze from my face. I sit nodding and she continues. She tells me things I have heard a zillion times before. Things that come from living in the shadows of child OCD.

Your child has been told they have OCD, but do they really know what child OCD is about? Here is a simple way to explain it…

I tell her I’ve heard all of this before. A look of shock, disbelief and finally relief envelopes her face. “You have?” She says, making eye contact for the first time. “I have,” I tell her.

Childhood OCD shouldn’t be a mystery. Not to children. Not to parents. All too often I will meet parents and children in my practice who have no true grasp of the disorder they are battling. And unfortunately, without a true understanding of your enemy, you will have no way to defeat it.

Many parents don’t know how to explain OCD – in fact, they struggle with fully understanding it themselves. That is why in my parenting class, Parenting Kids with OCD, I made several videos to help kids fully grasp the concept of childhood OCD. I thought it was important enough that families and children who are not enrolled in my class should benefit from watching it too. I hope it helps some of you out there demystify child OCD for your kids.

If you are a parent, you might want to watch my other video from my class, Childhood OCD: The Invisible Disorder which talks about misperceptions parents often have about OCD.


Click below to watch my short video:
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Other Articles on OCD in Children:

OCD in Children: Are you Missing the Signs?

How to Deal with OCD in Young Children

When Child Anxiety & OCD Look Like Oppositional Defiance

The Best Books on Childhood OCD: