Here’s Why Your Child’s OCD Might Affect His or Her Performance in the Classroom
Recognizing OCD behaviors in children
Most people have a general understanding of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but it can manifest differently in children. Most children with OCD exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:
- Magical thinking, or concern that random thoughts/actions will lead to horrible outcomes
- Fear of themselves / what they might do
- Need to feel “right”, and repeating actions until they “feel” they can stop
- Fear of God and blasphemy
- Jumping to catastrophic conclusions, like assuming their mother is never coming to pick them up because she is five minutes late
- Fear of contamination, such as coughing, sneezing, and sickness
These thoughts and behaviors are hard for children to control, especially since they don’t understand that their behaviors are irrational. They are too young to use logic to calm themselves, so they simply repeat certain behaviors they feel they can control until they feel more secure.
Unfortunately, this can lead to disruptions in the classroom, including distracting behavior, tantrums, and repetitive questions.
Other symptoms of OCD
Children with OCD might also exhibit behaviors that might not appear to be obsessive or compulsive at first glance. These are, however, a direct result of their OCD.
These behaviors include:
- Fatigue (from constantly being “on”)
- Restlessness (kicking chairs or tapping themselves as part of their rituals)
- Avoidance of certain situations (like getting dirty on the playground)
- Being easily distracted by their compulsions
- Slowness on tests and assignments (usually due to a need for perfectionism)
Teachers might mistake one or more of these behaviors for ADHD, but they are simply another feature of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Tackling OCD in children starts with diagnosis. Once your child has a diagnosis, they can begin receiving treatment and therapy to help them cope with their condition in a more healthy manner. Parents can also learn methods to “unstick” their children when they get caught up in certain thoughts and behaviors. In addition, teachers can make allowances for children with OCD, such as private testing environments and new seating arrangements.
If your child is struggling at school due to their OCD, you can find help by calling Scottsdale Pediatric Behavioral Services at 480-410-4040 or booking an appointment online.