The national OCD charity, run by and for people with lived experience of OCD
What I would like my loved ones to know
It is not your fault. I understand many parents believe they are to blame when their child develops OCD, when that is simply not the case. You cannot make someone develop OCD, and there are thousands of factors that can encourage its development. A critical combination of environmental triggers, biology and bad luck is what might cause OCD, and you are not to blame.
The reason why your child developed OCD is irrelevant and impossible to fully determine, what matters is what you do about it now. Researching OCD is an excellent way to understand it more, as parents are often victims of the same misconceptions that are commonplace in society. Learn as much about OCD as you can from reliable sources. Talk to other people who have gone through the same thing. You must understand that your child is not making a ‘choice’. OCD is never a choice. It is not a decision that people make. It is a disorder.
OCD is incredibly frustrating to deal with, but the frustration you feel will be minuscule compared to the frustration your child deals with constantly. Be patient and remain calm. Do not force your child to do things that are uncomfortable with, they will overcome OCD in their own time. Forcing anyone with OCD to face triggers before they are ready will only result in added trauma and make it more difficult to face in the future due to the further negative associations they will inevitably develop.
Making sure that your child is getting the right help from professionals is the most important thing. OCD does not go away on its own, it gets worse. Seeking professional help and encouraging your child to complete the at-home tasks they are often given is very important. Don’t pretend to have experienced what they are going through. Saying things like “I get it, I hate when the drawers are left open” or “how come your room is so messy, I thought you loved cleaning” is not helpful and ignorant. Listen.
Pay attention and make time to hear what they are saying. Ask for clarification and try to remember what they have told you. It is also important that you deal with the stress OCD will cause you, as OCD affects all family members, not just the sufferer. Remember that your child will recover from OCD, and you cannot carry them through it, all you can do is hold their hand and make that journey with them.
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