A young girl worries she might stick out her middle finger, so she goes around keeping her hands in tight fists. Another boy worries he’ll go to hell if he lies, so he can’t even answer a simple question. A teenager boy is fearful he is staring at his teacher’s breasts, so he looks at the floor the entire day. And the saddest part? No one knows these kids are even suffering. Not their parents, not their teachers, not their friends.
It often starts off with a question. “Mom if I touch my mouth after I touched the Clorox wipe, is that safe?” It might pick up steam from there… “Mom if the shampoo gets in my eyes, will I go blind? From there the questions can be endless and never ending.
Harm OCD in Children: How to Help Them Harm OCD in children can be easily missed. Harm OCD makes kids worry they might do something to hurt or harm someone else or themselves. I often see kids with Moral OCD (scrupulosity OCD) have Harm OCD as well. Most kids with OCD have at least a few different OCD themes. You can learn more about Harm […]
Many parents don’t understand Harm OCD. It goes unnoticed, undetected and misinterpreted. Harm OCD makes kids worry they might hurt someone else. They might get them sick. They might accidentally harm them. They might do something to cause a catastrophe. You might have a child who is afraid to touch their nose or their private parts in fear they will contaminate someone else. You might see them washing their hands over and and over and assume that they are afraid of getting sick – when in reality they are afraid of getting other people sick.
Your child is bombarded with “bad thoughts.” They are asking you bizarre questions that are stopping you dead in your tracks. What if I hurt myself? What if I hurt you? What if I set the house on fire? What if I jump in front of a train? What if I left a scratch on your car? They riddle every conversation with apologies and more questions. They are consumed with worry. They don’t want to have these thoughts. They don’t want to hurt themselves or other people. But they can’t make these thoughts stop. These thoughts scare you. These thoughts scare them. Welcome to the world of Harm OCD. Harm OCD is often misunderstood and misdiagnosed.
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.