OCD in children is more common than you think. Most cases of OCD (Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder) begins in early childhood and early adolescence and is diagnosed between 7-12 years of age.
Because children are growing and ever changing as they develop, the signs and symptoms may change often and may even be hard to recognize in the early stages. However, this particular anxiety disorder usually begins gradually and worsens with age if not treated properly.
OCD in children takes on some of the same signs and symptoms as it does in adults. For example, children may become obsessive about counting, sorting, and may battle obsessive scary thoughts. They may also be collectors of useless things thinking there may be a need for them later on. They may become preoccupied with ideas, images of certain things that may be considered harmful, wrong or dirty. They may fear germs or develop tics as a result of their anxieties.
When it comes to specific rituals that children feel they need to carry out, they usually do these things to help alleviate their anxiety. These rituals can interfere with the flow of everyday life and sometimes they can take over by consuming them completely.
If you think your child may be experiencing the symptoms of OCD, it is important to have them checked by a specialist. Not all children that experience some of the symptoms actually have OCD. Only a doctor can determine a proper diagnosis.
As with any anxiety disorder, children cannot just "snap out of it". The best thing you can do as a parent is to get them help as soon as possible so they may learn the skills they will need to live a productive, healthy and happy life.
Recommended Reading on OCD in Children
Freeing Your Child from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: A Powerful, Practical Program for Parents of Children and Adolescents by Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D. This book should not be missed! Specifically for parents, you will learn many things you can do to help your child get better.
What to Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming OCD (What-to-Do Guides for Kids) by Dawn Huebner, Ph.D. is a great book for kids. This book guides children and their parents through the cognitive-behavioral techniques used to treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This is an interactive self-help book.
Up and Down the Worry Hill: A Children's Book about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and its Treatment by Aureen Pinto Wagner, Ph.D. In this uniquely creative and heart-warming book, Dr. Wagner uses the powerful metaphor of the Worry Hill to describe OCD and its treatment clearly through the eyes of a child.