Do you really have any idea why your child is obsessive or is it something that you simply watch? It’s hard as a parent, to watch your child do things over and over again. Watching your child be so worried about something that they obsess over it, not knowing what to do, is difficult.
What is obsession really about?
Let’s first look at the dictionary definition of obsession:
an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind.
Notice that the definition talks about a thought or an idea. Your child will have a recurring thought that they want to get out of their head. They don’t necessarily know HOW they are going to do that, and so they may take on some behaviour they think will make the difference.
For example, your child is obsessed with vomiting and believes that if they eat a certain type of food, that’s what will happen. They will do everything they can to avoid that food, or things they associate with that food.
Maybe they think there are germs everywhere and they will become sick. This is the thought pattern going around in their head. To resolve this they wash their hands over and over and over many times a day.
For someone with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD, this is what happens in their mind.
Why your child is obsessive
The reason your child begins this ‘obsessive’ behaviour is because they are worried that whatever they are thinking, or believing will happen. In the future of course.
Your child is obsessive because of what they are imagining will happen.
Their mind is telling them in some small way, they are in danger. They think they are in danger of getting sick. And who knows where their mind goes past that, it may ultimately be that they think they could die.
These sorts of ‘extremes’ will be common in their way of thinking, so they must do what they can, at all costs, to stop this from happening. Hence their compulsive or obsessive behaviour.
The thoughts they are having in their mind that lead them to believe they aren’t safe, are continuous. Hence the need, in their mind, for the obsessive behaviour.
It’s a continuous loop of thinking that they don’t know how to stop, or manage, in any other way, other than with their behaviour pattern of obsession.
How to support an obsessive child
The first thing to do is to stay calm yourself. If you become anxious it will only add to their unsettling behaviour.
Next, be kind to them. Understand that at that moment they aren’t able to respond differently. They feel so connected to their thought pattern, it isn’t possible to see another option.
Talk to them about their fear. You don’t have to name the emotion and there is also nothing wrong with doing that.
Find out what thought pattern is going around and around in their head. This will help you better understand what is behind their obsessive behaviour.
Don’t tell them to stop. Kindness and love is what is needed. Until they feel safe, they won’t possibly be able to stop their obsessive behaviour.
Things to remember
Your child’s obsessive behaviour is their safety mechanism.
It’s their thinking that is creating the need for them to be obsessive.
Kindness and love are what is needed to support them
Helping them to see that what they are thinking may not be true, in a kind and gentle way will help too.