Obsessive/compulsive/worry Type of Personality in a 6 Year Old

Updated on December 17, 2008
J.F. asks from Strongsville, OH
12 answers

Hi everyone. I'd like to start by saying that my 6 year old is such a pleasant, beautiful kid. Over the past several months, we have noticed the worrying get out of hand. We have had to pull him out of activities due to his little fear of bodily injury. He was losing sleep anitipating when the next activity was going to be and would count the days. We felt it wasn't worth all that anxiety and decided to take him out and telling him (we didn't quit), but it was his choice when he will be ready....giving him control.

As I have been closely observing his beavior, I noticed he is a little bit of a perfectionist..and things have to be "just so" with him. He asks the same type of questions and he loves learning, especially math. In fact, I am wondering if his love of numbers is some sort of an obsession too. He hates to be interupted if he's trying to tell us something that he told us before, and says, but I "have to tell you". He is overly responsible and very contioncious. He is also VERY smart and mature for his age. He is a kindergartner and worries that his homework is done, and checks that it is in his book-bag before he heads out to school. It's like I'm raising a little "man". he get along well with his peers...but he is also the slow to warm up type. He will not play with anyone younger than him. I'm grateful for the fact that he is a careful and maticulous kinda kid, but how much of that is normal.

I am aware that these might be OCD'ish type of symptoms.

What can I do next?

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answers from Cincinnati on

Dear J.,
It sounds like you have a very bright child! I would not worry at this point. Getting him analyzed might do more harm than good. He seems very proud of his accomplishments and wants you to recognize them. If his perfectionism gets in the way of everyday simple tasks consistently, then may be there should be some concern. L. J

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answers from Indianapolis on

As the mom of a 9 year old who has a son like yours, I suggest patience. My guy finally got diagnosed in Kindergarten, but we knew before that about his anxiety/OCD tendencies before then. He is a bright kid - does extremely well with math and science, (loves science) reads at an 8th grade level and is very orderly. At night, every time before his shower, he organizes the things on our sink counter very precisely - one of his many habits like that.

When he was younger, he would line up his books in a very precise pattern. He had to have everything perfect, and would be very upset if things he was working on didn't come out the way he had tried. Sleep was rough - couldn't sleep (and still has trouble) if worried about an upcoming event. He would jump on his bed and when I told him he needed to stop, he would say "I have to jump 8 more times" because he needed to finish his pattern. He would have to put his shoes and socks on is a very specific order, and if someone tried to help him out of the order he wanted, he had to start completly over. He does not have autism - I recognize his traits because I am guilty of many of them myself. I understand his need to have everything "just right". This is his personality, who he is. Trying to change it will only make things a bigger struggle. Just use his strengths as much as you can, giving him reassurance and love (as I'm sure you are) frequently.

We did go through an anxiety program at Riley last year. It was helpful, but he was still pretty young for the program, so I don't think it would be a benefit for you yet - many anxiety programs aren't set up for ones so young - understanding the process is hard for adults, let alone little ones to grasp. I suggest you seek therapy if it causes great disruption in daily life, though. If he faces great frustration or feels very different from others, depression can develop. It doesn't automatically happen - you just might keep an eye out for any issues.

As he gets older, he will begin to figure things out in terms of how he needs to handle things in relation to others as well as himself. There is no overnight fix, just time and patience and learning. We have come a long way - and as parents we do everything we can to help our kiddos, but, as with many things, all we can do is help them learn and develop - it is ultimatly up to them - we just are their support. Good luck and know you have a very special little guy who is lucky to have a mom who loves him and is looking out for him!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on


I read two other posts that I thought were right on - it sounds like it could be OCD or Asperger's or something along those lines. Children on the spectrum have repetitive behaviors that can seem like OCD. (I have one who memorizes tv shows the first time he sees them and then sometimes obsessively goes over the dialogue. He's not doing it to bother us - he feels compelled to. And the behaviors have changed over time. In other words, he used to do one thing obsessively, now it's something else.) These children can also have certain physical sensitivies that cause them to not want to do certain physical tasks. They might not have the same sense of their bodies in space that other people do.

I would have him tested. Even if you find out that the issues just stem from some experience and not a disorder, you'll know the whole picture and can make the best decisions for him. I've found that not knowing is comforting for some parents and believe me I understand the emotions involved, but then you are only parenting on half the information. It's best to address these things as young as possible and I think he's a very lucky little boy to have a mom who is so in tune with what is happening with him.

It's hard to consider that anything might be going on with your child, but it seems that you've already considered that something might be at the root of the behaviors. At the end of the day, he's the same kid you love, his "normal" is your "normal" and he sounds like a really wonderful boy. How lucky he is to be good at math. I was horrible at it and I sure could use a little meticulous in my life! Every person, typical or not, has something that challenges them. I thought that the Cub Scouts suggestion was a particularly good one.

Best of luck and enjoy the things that make him who he is. Please let us know how it goes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

He sounds like a great kid. I would not push activities on him. Let him do the ones he wants to and if he does not feel safe, then it's OK not to be in them. Organized sports are way over-rated. You should see if there is a Cub Scout troop in your area that he can join. It may just be his thing and it teaches boys survival skills and many educational things. He may just love it.



answers from Cincinnati on

I think I have his twin. Except our subject is science instead of math. (Which he is rather upset about because Math is an every day thing and science is not.)
We just moved into our own home, just him and I and he is totally worried about getting all his stuff unpacked but he MUST do it alone because there are certian places for certain things and they can not go in the wronge place.
My son is having trouble in Kindergarten because of his slowness to warm up to big changes. He was fine in preschool but it was a group of 10 and the teacher was able to spend a lot of one on one time with him. His kindergarten teacher finally said she is starting to see him relaxe at school. :( He is so smart and only wants to do the hard stuff to learn more--but won't show anyone he can do the stuff he should be doing.
I'm sorry I can't help you out, just know you're not alone!



answers from Cleveland on

My nephew has Aspergers syndrome (high functioning autism) and it sounds a bit like what you are experiencing.
Part of it is a left brained dominance (he could read when he was 3- delayed speach- OCD difficulty with changing activities and not much interest in other kids (or people in general) They are hyper sensitive to sound and energy . He goes to a school with an autism program and is doing great. He is brilliant and also is very 'old'...

The first step is a pediatric Neurologist. The Cleveland clinic has an autism institute.

here is the link

Best of luck



answers from Youngstown on

maybe it is a 6 year old boy thing!! Mine has some very similar things- the obsession with numbers- we are constantly counting things, talking about how many days, hours, seconds, milliseconds- anything. He also announces the time about every 5 minutes. I remember my 10 year old boy going through something similar at about the same age- I think they are just becoming aware of routine, time, days all that and with the start of kindergarten they are looking for a little control of their lives. I wouldn't worry too much about it - I think its just a phase!



answers from Cincinnati on

I am a SAHM, but I used to work as a therapist with children with behavioral and emotional issues. It sounds to me like your son may have obsessive compulsive disorder(OCD) or obsessive compulsive personality disorder(OCPD). I would encourage you to read some info about it and see if you think it fits him. Here are some links: http://www.massgeneral.org/schoolpsychiatry/info_ocd.asp, http://www.ocdonline.com/articlephillipson6.php, http://www.helium.com/items/805000-parents-can-affect-obs.... (My father-in-law has OCD.) Good luck and let me know if I can do anything else to help.



answers from Fort Wayne on

I suggest taking him to a child psychologist to be tested for a variety of learning disorders. Some of these issues can be resolved with counseling and he can learn better ways to cope with stress.

I just had my 4 year old tested. They asked him questions and asked him to do small tasks. I think it took about 2 hours and insurance covered it. I also answered some questionnaires on autism and other disabilities. The doctor had an analysis and ways to treat him by the next business day.

A psychologist is the only person that can effectively answer these questions. You may need a referrel from your family physician in order for your insurance to cover the initial visit, tests and follow up visit for the ways to treat the symptoms.

In Fort Wayne the Fort Wayne Neurology Center was just built onto Lutheran Hospital off Jefferson Blvd. The entrance is just behind the parking garage. If they cannot help you, they might know of someone in your area. They also have a office on Lake Steet. ###-###-####.



answers from Columbus on


When anxiety interferes with his ability to function, it is time to seek treatment. Anxiety to that degree is not a phase and treatment is highly effective. He can feel better and function more easily.

I like Developmental pediatricians for this age because they do a complete evaluation prior to any diagnosis and you can be sure that you have not overlooked anything, but board certified child psychiatrists are also good choices. You can find Developmental pediatricians at your nearest children's hospital. It may take a while to get in, but it will be worth your time.

One of our children had this problem, and she did very well with treatment, also in kindergarten. This is a chemical problem that is far beyond their control. With treatment her life was so much improved, it truly was like night and day.

Good luck.




answers from Muncie on

This sounds a lot like my son but my son keeps the anxiety internalized, doesn't vocalize it. It sounds like your son is gifted, I would recommend talking to the school about testing and a program. When a child is bored they tend to overthing things. I agree with the previous post about seeing an expert too. My son is currently on a waiting list to be tested for Asperger's Syndrome. The need need for a routine and control along with a HUGE list of other things such as very little eye contact is why I am doing this.

L. Etta, Mother to two, an 8 year old boy and a 6 year old girl.



answers from Toledo on

geesh, I bet alot of moms are saying, I wish my kid had some of those traits. He sounds adorable, you sure are blessed with him. The one person you can trust with your childs well being is your doctor, ask him what he thinks. Most of the time everything your child knows he has learned from you. He may be a gifted child, this will be a blessing and entertaining. Encourage his math skills they will get him far in life, and you will never have to worry about him not doing his homework or the dog eating it. My son loves to tell the same story over and over and yes he wants us to listen. Sigh. He did not get to take the prekindergarden test until he turned 5 late in august. He did score 27 out of 29, the children he wants to be around are smart like him, they have things in common, but he doesn't want other kids around him. Be glad he can comunicate so well. If your son sees you relaxing and not being worried about things, maybe he will learn that too. Recently my son had a couple of hospital visits, and it took me a bit to notice he was scared. The second time I saw it and talked with him, he still worried. Later that night he told his dad it was ok. Maybe your son did get hurt playing and you didnt realize it at the time, that would make me leary of other actvities. Keep a sharper eye on him. My son got hit, the second day of school , on the bus. He scratched the kid ,in retaliation, but it was a rough start. 2 weeks ago he got pushed into the bathroom door from behind. I see the mark on his face every day, he is ok with that boy now because he told the teacher and the boy got his name on the board. I want to hit his mother really hard and put a scar on her face, but my son doesn' t know that. All in all your child may just not be ready for the things he was doing and good for you for taking him out. Some times being home with mom and dad is just the place to be. It sounds like you read your son very well, follow your instincts.

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