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How to Help a Child who is Struggling with OCD

Updated: Apr 7

OCD is a mental health condition characterized by intrusive, distressing thoughts or images (obsessions), and repetitive behaviors or mental acts (compulsions) aimed at reducing anxiety or distress, or preventing a feared event. Helping a child who may be struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be challenging for both the caregiver and the child. Adequate support often requires patience, understanding, collaboration, and an appreciation for the child’s lived experience. Here are some steps that you can take to support a child with OCD:


1. Educate Yourself: Learn about OCD to better understand the condition, symptoms, and its impact on your child. This knowledge will help you provide effective support.

2. Seek Professional Help: Consult a mental health professional with knowledge and experience in treating OCD. A therapist or psychiatrist can accurately diagnose the condition, and a mental health clinician can support your child as they engage with Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP is a proven therapeutic technique for OCD. Under the guidance of a therapist, your child will learn how to gradually face their fears and obsessions without engaging in compulsions. This process helps them learn to manage their anxiety.

3. Foster Open Communication: Create a safe and non-judgmental environment where your child feels comfortable and safe discussing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Encourage them to express themselves without fear of criticism or shame.

4. Avoid Accommodating OCD: While it may be tempting to accommodate your child's OCD symptoms in order to ease their distress (e.g., providing reassurance, helping your child complete rituals), this can reinforce their OCD symptoms. Work with your child’s mental health clinician to develop a plan to gradually reduce accommodations.

5. Encourage Treatment Adherence: Ensure that your child attends therapy sessions and takes any prescribed medications regularly. Remain actively involved in your child’s treatment planning, and the course of therapy.

6. Set Realistic Goals: Support your child as they set achievable goals for treatment. Celebrate their progress, no matter how small, to boost their confidence.

7. Be Patient: OCD treatment is a gradual process that takes time. Be patient and understanding as your child works through their challenges.

8. Encourage Healthy Lifestyle Habits: Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet, engage in regular exercise, and obtain adequate sleep, as these can have a positive impact on mental health. Work with your child to minimize stressors in their environment, and model healthy coping mechanisms and stress management techniques.

9. Support Groups: Consider seeking your own help. Explore opportunities to connect with local or online support groups for parents/caregivers of children with OCD. Sharing experiences with others who understand the challenges can be comforting.


Remember that OCD can be a challenging condition, but with the right treatment and support, many children can manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives. Always consult with a qualified mental health professional for guidance on the best approach for your child's specific situation.


Our team at Home For Balance offers in-person and telehealth services focused on the treatment of OCD for children and adults. For more information, please contact us today at info@homeforbalance.com or at 561.600.1424 for a FREE 30-minute consultation!


For more information about OCD, please visit the websites below:



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