7 answers

5 Yr Old with OCD

I have OCD. I know what to do for myself to keep it in check, but now my son seems to have it as well and I don't know what to do for a 5 yr old with OCD. He seems to be trying so hard to get control in his life. I think I can help him with some of his freak-outs about germs, but he's throwing huge fits daily about so many other things and I just don't know how to help him. I also considered an allergy to Red dye #40, until I realized that he rarely eats the items in our home that contain it. What can I do for him?

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Hi C.- I feel for you! My daughter developed OCD last year. She would wash her hands until they cracked and bled and then she'd wash them more. I was so scared for her and felt helpless.
I took her to phychologists, councelors, anyone I thought might be able to help us cope. Months went by...They all wanted to put her on heavy medications.
My breaking point? one night I had to literally hold her away from the sink...Please no, I begged. She replied that she didn't want to wash them but she had too...
I took her to an eye reader- I know it sounds so bizzar, but he put her on two herbs (anti stress) and within one week she had slowed and within two weeks it had stopped. She was able to control the urges.
It seemed like a miracle to us.
I hope this helps..good luck to you. please feel free to email me for more support.
H.

Both my 5yo son and I are also OCD. I think the biggest help for us was recognizing it in him young. My first experience with it in him was at about 10 months, so you might check with your husband and see if he sees it in the other two so you can start helping them now. For the older one, maybe you could work on one thing at a time until he can handle things. You can always talk to your doctor for ideas, too. Our doctor told us that our son was very age appropriate for a long time until we were talking outside of the office one day and I was telling him about something and he finally saw what I meant about the OCD. He couldn't believe it in someone so young (he was about 2yo at the time). He had some very helpful ideas. One thing that has helped our son, is I don't always allow him to clean up his room. Yes, it drives me nuts, but it really is an obsessive thing for him. Once he could leave it messy for a few days, it was easier to deal with, and now, while he's good at cleaning it, it's not an obsession. Also, at times, I "help" him with a project he's working on, and do it slightly different. He wants to redo what I did "wrong". I just tell him, we don't have time, that's why I helped, and maybe he can fix it when he gets back home. We side step an argument because he knows it's going to be fixed. Very rarely does he remember to fix it when he has the time. There are also times I don't let him wash his hands when he wants to, otherwise he would wash them all day long. Those are some of the little things we do for that. Our son is sensitive to red dye #40. If you suspect that, check the labels of everything. I've been surprised at what it's in, like some tomato products (as if tomatoes aren't red enough!), some brands of things like mac and cheese, etc. It really is quite a pervasive thing. If there is a sensitivity, it can trigger tantrums. Macadamia nuts are our big one, and people, including other family members, are amazed at the bizarre things my son does when he gets some. It's officially not an allergy, but, oh my, we can't handle the effects. You might keep a food diary and see if there are certain foods that seem to trigger it. Hope this helps. Sorry to be so long winded. I had a quiet moment and more thoughts kept coming to mind. GL! I know it's not a fun battle, but it's definitely one worth winning, as you already know. :)

I would talk to the doctor and explain what you see in your son. Sometimes we can misinterpret normal behavior, especially when the tendency toward something like OCD runs in the family. Tell your pediatrician everything you see (give details of specific exampes if you can) and that you have OCD. She may be able to give you suggestions and also refer you to a good child psychiatrist.
Often disorders manifest themselves differently in chilren and adolescents than adults, and require different types of treatment, so it would be very beneficial to work with a psyciatrist who specializes in children.

If you feel like the pediatrician is just brushing you off/not really listening, don't give up. You do know your son better than anyone and you should listen to your instincts, so don't be afraid to get another opinion. But also don't be so set in your idea of what it is that you won't consider other things.

Good luck!

I don't know how you feel about medication, but we have had our son following a (very low dose) medication and behavioral therapy regime since he was diagnosed with OCD at age 3. His pediatric neurologist suggested Tenex and Lexapro for it after diagnosis since our son was still too young to really express his needs clearly to us when he couldn't understand them himself.

We had him tested for allergies, and the only allergies he has are to pollens and molds. The doctors think that the OCD is most likely genetic and not environmental. Which explained why all my attempts at diet changes for him prior to diagnosis did absolutely nothing. I had wished it was a food dye allergy, since that is a lot easier to change.

Medicine wasn't a miracle cure, but it has made life so much easier on him. He is 8 now and we have been able to take him off the lexapro completely. His Tenex is much lower dose and once a day rather than 3 times a day. He has managed to be mainstreamed at school, with 30 minutes of behavioral therapy at the school every afternoon. Plus he gets one hour a month with an outside therapist and we work on the behavior changes at home too. We are so amazed at his ability to deal with the world now. While he isn't "cured" and won't ever be free of the OCD, he is able to tell us most of the time what he needs or what we need to do to help him get through the day without being paralyzed by the OCD.

One of the big things the doctors had us do at the beginning, even before the meds, was to keep a journal of all the things we noticed our son doing that seemed to be OCD related. Then we wrote down the things that either made the situation better or worse for each OCD event. We found that whenever he was sick (especially with Strep) things were always worse. And that sudden changes of any sort made him throw a fit. So we found transistional coping methods...like giving him the plans for the day the night before (now I keep a weekly schedule on the fridge he can refer to) and if there were changes to the plans we always tried to approach the changes with him by verbally recognizing that we understood this wasn't what he wanted/needed. No method is perfect 100%, but it works for us at least 90% of the time.

Good luck with it. Although,I've been told that a parent having it too will make it easier for the child in the long run.

hello C., so my son hasent been diagnosed with ocd but we have had some behavior problems with him and the last thing we wanted was for him to be on some sorce of medication, it may work for others but its not something we choose to do in our family, but i did go to the health food store and talked to them and they recamended these all natural liquid drops to try they are ment to help maintane emotional clarity its by Dr. Christophers its called Kid-e-trac its reasonably priced and works great my son has less out bursts and seemes more focust and it dose this wothout afecting his happy go lucky spirit the way some medications do. so this is my recamendation for a natural resonably priced option that has worked great for me. i hope this helps.

First understand that being five is hard, it is the cusp of being a big kid and not being a toddler. Kids pick up on things from parents, he will mimic what he sees, if you are compulsive about germs he will be too. I am a former big time germaphobe, I had to stop being so freaked out as I saw my kids washing their hands so much it caused rashes. I just had to explain them when it is important to wash, step out of my box and comfort zone and be calmer about the germ factor. Germs can be good to a degree, builds healthy immune system and you cannot prevent germs. Degerming too much can backfire too. It is very normal at this age though to pick up a "habit" and have it be hard. It doesn't always mean OCD though. My daughter went through it too. They teach about germs in school, then they hear it at home and kind of go overboard. For my daughter she got past this stage. It is very normal.

My four year old washes his hands a lot, too much and we had to reel him back in. He was not rinsing well and got a very sore red rash from too much soap, that is when I realized I needed to change my behavior. I blame myself due to me watching other kids too I can kind of get military on them about washing after the bathroom, before meals, when coming inside from school or playing outside. I just explain when it is important and over doing it too much leads to problems, stripping protective skin, causing infection if you wash too much.

Five year olds are tough too in the sense they want control and structure, it is normal it really is. His fits need to have consequences that matter, to help him learn self control. I have a seven year old I am still working on that with. It doesn't necessarily mean OCD.
You can have him evaluated, but just realize too it is very normal for a five year old to want what they want when they want it!!!! The best thing you can do to help him, is teaching him calming techniques, when he is feeling angry, validate his anger but also tell him he cannot act out and help him calm down. When he pitches a fit, have a consequence. The best gift you can give him now is hold him accountable for is actions, do not cater to him, do not ever cave when he pitches a fit, but give him consequences for bad behavior. Reward the positive behavior.

If you are diagnosed with OCD, then you need to talk to your Dr about medications to help control it, if you just think you are then maybe both of you should get evaluated as there are ways to help both of you. Just remember he can just be picking up on your cues of germs. It is hard, I was never one to worry much until I had kids, then it is a different ballgame. I really went overboard, lysolling shoes, keeping shoes off the carpet, washing constantly, being ultra paranoid.
Now I just try to worry about what I can control and keep things in check, I know they will get sick, they will get germs no matter how careful I am and it isn't a bad thing all the time.

Hi C.,
I have no experience with OCD or anything like that but the mention of the red dye caught my eye. My daughter is not allergic to the red dye but she absolutely cannot eat anything blue. I cannot tell you the exact dye number but I looked it up and there is an intolerance to blue dyes as well as red. When she does consume some blue she is completely unable to stop moving. Once after being told to quit moving her arms and legs I looked and she was spinning her head in circles and continued to do so for several minutes! She literally could NOT quit moving. Anyway, just an FYI in case you had not heard of that. Good luck with your son!

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