OCD And Separation Anxiety

Updated on March 31, 2013
G.R. asks from Tampa, FL
13 answers

Hi! My daughter was just diagnosed with OCD and separation anxiety. I was wondering if any mothers out there are dealing with some of the same issues as I. I could really use the help considering that the separation anxiety my daughter has towards me cost me my job. It all started about 8 months ago when she was expelled from daycare due to her impulsive behavior. She'd be fine one minute and the next she'd get really upset about anything and would cause sudden outbursts. I tried putting her in 2 other daycares but was called 10 minutes after I left because she couldn't deal with me leaving. Till this day, when you ask her if she wants to go back to school she says no because she doesn't want to leave me. I've never left her sleeping anywhere so it totally freaked me out when I saw that she didn't want to leave my side. In terms of the OCD she believes that things just aren't right and wants to immediately fix it so it's "perfect" ( thats the word she uses). Everything has to match or be the same or she'll get upset. Her clothes, bedsheets, etc... have to all match. Her psychologist told me that she sees everything as either black or white ( good or bad)... she doesn't see a happy medium which makes her rigid and that causes her impulsiveness. I know it's not her doing and she can't control herself but it's frustrating sometimes because she ALWAYS wants to be with me and I can't even get a job because of this. I'm with her 24/7 and it's really stressful. At times I don't know how to deal with her. This is all very new for me so any support would be great. Do things eventually get better? How long will this last? Is this genetic? I googled OCD and got a few answers but I would rather get it directly from the source, someone who is actually going through the same thing as I. PLEASE HELP!

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers


answers from San Francisco on

How old is she, and who diagnosed her?
I hope a psychologist or psychiatrist diagnosed her and is either now counseling her, or referring you to a therapist because it sounds like she needs it.
Good luck!

Edit My Answer
2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Boston on

As a therapist myself, I would get another opinion. It sounds like she is about 4 and OCD is a huge label for her age unless there are symptoms you have left out. I would want to focus on coping skills, 5-10 strategies she can use when she begins to feel a certain way. We also need more info about your home life and other stressors.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I read that she's seeing a psychologist. At least I hope you mean that you're continuing to see her and she just wasn't seen for a diagnosis only. Her anxiety seems extreme. OCD is the way someone deals with anxiety. By making it perfect one feels less anxiety or at least hopes to. And at 4 she should be able to handle separation with a little bit of help from the staff.

An adult with this much difficulty would be offered medication. Has the psychologist discussed that possibility with you?

Talk with the psychologist about how to handle this. We don't know enough about you, your daughter, your relationship, your circumstances to be able to answer this. Tho, a mom with a similar child may be able to give you ideas.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Your daughter is too young to be diagnosed with OCD. My daughter was exactly like that at 3-4, it's normal!

The DSM is out of on control and literally creating a generation of problem children!

I find empathetic discussions helpful with dealing with the black and white behavior. I also count when my daughter is unable to make a choice, and I then make it for her.also, make problems hers. My daughter was super OCD about her chair at dinner and about her sheets. We stopped pushing her in and stopped tucking her in. By making it her problem, we lessened our stress and she stopped being so OCD about it. In fact, removing attention is th best discipline technique out there, and I strongly believe that trips to the doctor and therapist just reinforce the negative behavior!

My daughter is now 5 and still always wants to be with me. She will let me drop her off at the occasional class, but save for an hour here or there, she is always with me. With tha said, she is one of the most confident children I know,

Some kids truly benefit from attachment parenting. To me this doesn't mean a family bed,it means letting them decide when they are ready to not be with you. My daughter has separation anxiety too, but I think it's NORMAL for many kids.

My point, instead of seeing problems, I suggest you love your daughter and read up on ways to best serve her without labeling her as broken. She isn't broken, she is just a little girl that isn't ready to go to daycare. I know lots of kids that are like this. And the OCD/ black white thing is also normal for many kids.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If your daughter is four I find it difficult understand how they diagnose OCD. It sounds a lot like my young son (who is now in twenties) and I was in a marriage with my first husband who had OCD and 'impulsiveness' is not usually a determining factor for OCD. OCD is Obsessive compulsive disorder, wherein the person needs to do things repeatedly over and over -sameness like(colors matching might have something to do with it) but OCD is debilitating in a lot of cases and the person can barely leave home. Impulsive means someone does something at the top of their head and it is often out of their control. Other conditions might factor in here. Nevertheless, my son did some of these things (he was diagnosed bipolar/m.d later in life and one of the solutions to the working problem was to work With him. So I worked at daycares where he was allowed to be a student. I don't know your background but it did help mine somewhat. Good luck I am sure this is so frustrating.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

It's been a while since I've looked at the DSM and haven't really even looked at the newest one. I had to look up the ages and diagnosis criteria! I was surprised at how young a professional can diagnose OCD in children now. 3 years old, that's just young!

There are of course normal behaviors that kids do then there is the line they cross that makes it different, where it interferes with their daily living skills so much that they can't live normally. That's when a diagnosis comes. When what they're doing is so out there that it is impacting their ability to function.

And it certainly sounds like she's in that range. I really like this article and how she explains it. That it takes at least an hour of the day.

"Furthermore, symptoms must be time-consuming (greater than one hour per day), cause marked distress and interfere with overall function."


The first thing I would do is find out about Disability income for her. This is something she will have the rest of her life. You will need to be able to find respite care through a home health agency, you'll need to find different professionals that can come in your home, there should be some sort of agency in your state too that deals with kids with developmental disabilities (I am going to call developmental disability'd DD so I don't have to type it over). I worked in the field with kids and adults with DD for many years. I had kids with mental retardation, adults that had done drugs as teens and brain damage from that, adults that had been exposed to chemicals/poison's that effected their ability to live, etc....any disability that causes a person to have a significant lack in several areas in their life skills; to be diagnosed as a DD the disability has to be diagnosed during their childhood years and not later as an adult.

It sounds like to me that she might qualify. If she does then you can get all sorts of help through the state program.

This is what I found online that explains the difference in normal and the line to not so normal>

"OCD versus normal ritualistic behaviors
Not confusing OCD with normal ritualistic behavior of childhood is important. Most children exhibit typical, age-dependent, compulsive behaviors. Frequently, young children prefer that events occur in a particular way, they insist on specific bedtime or mealtime rituals, and they become distressed if these rituals are disrupted.

Cross-sectional research of ritualistic behavior in children demonstrates that these behaviors appear when the individual is aged approximately 18 months, peak when the individual is aged approximately 2-3 years, and decline afterward. Presence of these behaviors appears to be related to mental age; thus, children who are mentally retarded and have cognitive levels at a developmental age of 2-3 years may have higher rates of compulsive behaviors, which are appropriate to their cognitive levels of development. These behaviors are best understood by acknowledging that they involve mastery and control of their environment, and, usually, they decrease to low levels by middle childhood. As a child ages, compulsive behaviors are replaced by hobbies or focused interests.

Normative compulsive behaviors can be discriminated from OCD on the basis of content, timing, and severity. Normative compulsive behaviors do not interfere with daily functioning."


It's very important that everyone understands that last line. It has to be interfering with her daily functioning and in this case this child is in that category.

It sounds like your life is difficult at best and almost unlivable because you can't do the normal things that moms do...like going to the doc without your child, going to the bathroom must even be challenging, you are her obsession/compulsion and in some peoples mindset giving in to her compulsion is not good for her. So they would say you need to go about life and leave her when ever you need to leave her. Others would say treat her with meds.

I think that you must decide what to do. I googled therapeutic child care in Tampa and got a couple of places. If you can get qualified through the state for aid for your child's disability you could use a therapeutic child care facility and they'd help with the cost of what insurance doesn't cover. These employees "should" be trained professionals. They "should" understand how to treat a child with a mental illness and be able to work with her and help her start recognizing that she is having an obsession or compulsion and to do different things that will help her stop.


Here are some centers listed under this page.

Murray Child Development Center
2403 E. Henry Avenue
Tampa, FL 33610

There is a lot more information about Easter Seals and how they provide services for kids. I'd check out that source.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

As a daycare provider, your story breaks my heart. My advice would be to try a learning center depending on her age. they are going to have a great environment with a number of trained staff to help work with your daughter. Ask to see if they would let you accompany her initially to help her transition to the new environment. That will help ease one of her anxieties in order for her to adjust to the routine while also allowing her to bond with staff and other children which will hopefully minimize the seperation anxiety somewhat. In time she will hopefully see that time as part of her routine. I don't believe that OCD ever completely goes away, but it can be managed and minimized through therapy and support. Seperation anxiety I believe should get better in time. Be caused it is coupled with OCD it may take a lot of time, trust, and reassurance. I wish you luck. Hang in there. A mothers love can be a wonderful therapy for any child and it is obvious she has that!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Take her to another child psychologist NOW. You are describing normal three-year-old behavior. She is a tiny little human who still wants to be near her mother. Normal separation anxiety. Wanting things "perfect" - she got that word somewhere and behavior is either rewarded or diminished by our actions. This is a classic case of over diagnosing healthy reactions; craving order, upset when mother leaves. Please, please get a second opinion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I'm so sorry. When my son was in preschool there was a little girl who was very very shy. Her mom went to preschool with her daily. By the end of the year she could finally go without her mom and be happy. This was a really good thing bc then she was able to start Kindergarten the next year just fine. Right now my daughter is preschool age. My friend's son is in preschool with my daughter and he was very upset every day for 3 weeks. It took him about 30 minutes before he then was happy and joined in with the other kids. He did not cry the whole time though. There is a new little boy in the class now and he would cry off and on for about an hour. It took him a month to get the hang of it. You have to help her learn to be without you - it is a life skill! Tell her she has to do this. Talk to her about how awesome her teachers are. Start her at a part time preschool where you can go too and be a helper. Find one with teachers she loves. Encourage her to really adore her teachers. Tell her how fun it is and how you will come with her at first. Then start weaning her away from being with you..tell her she has to get good at being at school without you so she is ready for big kid school. Leave for an hour when she is really engaged in something. Once she get the hang of that leave for one day of the week. Even if she is OCD she can learn this. She has to! You can't go to school with her!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

The fact that you were called 10 minutes after you left your little girl at a new daycare seems extreme to me. I have seen 1st graders cry when being left at school. Really not that unusual. I would not label her with this diagnosis. I would get a second opinion. Are there other behaviors you have left out of this post?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Hugs! My son is bipolar and OCD. It's rough! Some of his rituals are when he goes to bed his blanket has to cover the entire bed and he freaks out if any of the white sheet is showing. His clicks his seatbelt lock 4 times before he can get out of the car, and recently started tapping the door before leaving. The OCD isn't as hard to deal with as his bipolar and all that comes with it. He was also kicked out of of preschool for his impulsive behaviors:( if you need someone to talk to you can message me anytime.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

IF this is a real question... no REAL doctor would diagnose a 4 yr old with OCD and separation anxiety.
I am glad you scoffed at the google results and came here for some real knowledge.....



answers from San Francisco on

I completely agree with Julie.

Kids go through phases. There is nothing abnormal about a 3-4 year old wanting to be with mom all the time. Some kids are less outgoing than others. I have a problem with her being "diagnosed" so severely, so young.

She won't want to be with you all the time once she's in high school, I promise you. And you will probably miss it. The more you give her what she "needs" right now (emphasis on needs rather than wants), the sooner she will outgrow this.

Not fulfilling our children's needs makes the needs stronger, not the opposite. I know it's exhausting to be with a kid 24/7, but I'm guessing if you fill this need, you will find it's a phase and she will outgrow it soon.

Next question: Four Year Old Son with Obsessive Behaviour.