Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety related condition. It would be quite unusual to diagnose OCD at primary school age. People with OCD experience frequent unwanted and sometimes disturbing thoughts or images (‘obsessions’). They then attempt to relieve the anxiety caused by these thoughts by performing repetitive behaviours or mental rituals (‘compulsions’).
In children, it’s very common for such symptoms to be related to anxiety. For example, it’s not unusual for children with severe anxiety to experience recurrent worrying thoughts and feel the need to repeat a behaviour (e.g. three head twitches), which they think will stop a bad thing from happening. This does not necessarily mean they have OCD although there is an overlap of symptoms. Have a look at our pages on anxiety for some general resources.
Often, the relief brought by carrying out these compulsive actions is short lived, and in the longer term reinforces the obsession, which worsens the condition. OCD can take up a lot of time and make it difficult to get on with normal life. (e.g. school, social activities, family life). However there is lots of help and advice available which can help children learn to cope and there is good advice for parents below.
Typically, OCD falls into one of the following categories:
What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCD by Dawn Huebner. For children age 8-12 years. This is a book from the US with some American terminology like “garbage” and “junk” but it’s well written and helps you talk to your child about strategies for dealing with unwanted thoughts and behaviours. Available here
Touch and Go Joe: An Adolescent's Experience of OCD by Joe WellsAvailable here
Can I tell you about OCD? by Arnita Jassi. A short book that is useful for children but also parents and siblings to explain what it’s like to have OCD.Available here
Talking Back to OCD: The Program That Helps Kids and Teens Say No Way – and Parents Say Way to Go by John March and Christine Benton.Available here
Breaking Free from OCD: A CBT Guide for Young People and Their Families* by Jo Derisley. Part of the Reading Well "Shelf-Help" scheme of books chosen by young people and professionals : available in your local library. Available here
OCD-UK downloadable leaflets , a young children's booklet and a parents guide here
International OCD Foundation This is a US siteso some of the information isn't relevant for other countries but there are some good sections including how to talk to your child or teenager about OCD.https://kids.iocdf.org/for-parents/