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Helpful strategies for dealing with OCD



Understanding it’s a “brain glitch” is key

Helpful strategies for dealing with OCD

If you’re tasked with caring for a child with OCD, whether your own or someone else’s, you know how difficult it can be to stay calm when things go awry. A child will have a wildly irrational fear of something – like knives, or some kind of food – and will need to engage in repetitive, ritualistic behavior – like humming or washing hands, or counting and re-counting steps. When you know full well the child’s anxieties are totally unfounded, and their behaviors completely unhelpful, you want to do for them what you’d want someone to do for you: explain things away through logic and reasoning, enlighten them with your experience and easily verifiable knowledge. 

In a very helpful article for Turning Point Psychology, psychologist Anna Prudovski points out how and why those knee-jerk caregiver behaviors are, in fact, counter-productive. Those are in her “Don’t” list. Thankfully, however, she lists twice as many “Do’s” as “Don’t’s,” explaining how OCD must be understood as independent of the afflicted.

For instance, she advises giving the OCD a derogatory name, like “Cruella DeVille.” Or just saying, “OCD is making you feel like you need to count all the forks.”

RELATED: Does your child have OCD?

Or, as Prudovski puts it, “It is not really important which arguments the OCD uses to get the child to perform a compulsion. It’s very important, though, to point out to the child that it’s the OCD – the glitch/ the bully/ the brain bug/ the silly hiccup/ Mr. Clean – that is speaking up now. Therefore, address the process by pointing out the offender (the OCD) and not the content of the obsessions. Tell your child, ‘The OCD is trying to trick you again.’ Or ask, ‘Is 'the meanie dude' trying to bully you?’”

More helpful hints include encouraging the child to postpone or change rituals, and then ask afterwards, “Did what you expect happen?” or, “Was it as bad as you expected?”

It’s a very helpful read. When you are advised to “be kind” and “be compassionate,” you’re not always given tips on exactly how to do that. Prudovski does.



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