Obsessive compulsive disorder - OCD treatment and therapy from NOCD

Raising multiple kids with OCD

By Danielle Cohen, LMFT3 min read

Have 2 or more children with OCD? This is not unheard of, as we know that OCD is at least partly genetic. It can be difficult raising multiple children with mental health concerns, even if they do have the same disorder, like OCD. For those raising multiple children with OCD, we want to help support you, by detailing a few considerations to keep in mind.

Here are a few things to consider related to detecting symptoms in your children:

  • You may be more likely to recognize OCD symptoms forming in your younger child if your older child has OCD. This early recognition could help your younger child in terms of accessing early intervention.
  • Every person is unique, and as such, every person’s OCD will look different. 
  • Your children may have different OCD “themes,” which will require knowledge on the nuances of each theme.
  • One child’s OCD may trigger your other child’s OCD. For example, one child with contamination OCD may think they need their toys sanitized before and after each use. However, your other child with symmetry OCD may need to organize all of the toys in the house in a certain order. So, the first child may sanitize the toys one night before bed, while the second child will secretly sneak downstairs to move the toys into a perfect line. The first child is going to wake up the next morning and likely be upset that the toys are now contaminated.

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Here are some considerations related to ERP treatment for your children:

  • The basic psycho-education on OCD and ERP treatment will be the same, so this information will be applicable to each child.
  • Work with your children’s clinicians to develop treatment plans for each child. It may also be beneficial for the clinicians to consult about the impact of both children’s symptoms, and treatment, on the family system as a whole. 
  • If you approach ERP treatment as a family, parents and the children with OCD can form a team, fighting unitedly against the OCD. 
  • Approaching treatment in a family focused manner may also motivate your children to help each other through the process. If one sibling is getting better after engaging in ERP exercises, it might increase the likelihood that your other child will want to follow suit.

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Lastly, as parents, it is important not only to support your children, but also to support yourselves! It is called self-care. Set aside some time each week to do something for yourself—relaxation at a spa, read a book, see some friends, or whatever makes you feel rejuvenated. Additionally, NOCD offers no cost support groups for parents of children struggling with OCD. It could be helpful to hear from other parents going through similar, if not the same, situation.

Finding the right clinician for your children can be difficult. It is important that you feel comfortable with your choice of professional and their associated treatment approach. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about our clinicians and the ERP treatment we utilize for children and adolescents. If you are interested, please reach out to our CARE team at +1 312-766-6780. We also offer community feeds and support groups to interact with others experiencing similar symptoms and situations. Ask about our many services and resources when you call in! 

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Danielle Cohen, LMFT
WRITTEN BYDanielle Cohen, LMFT