Manias are habits and behaviors that are repeated very often, and that help the child to control some external events. As these routines grow, some tend to continue and be reinforced, and others disappear since hobbies that last too longo o that are very reinforcing can begin to interfere with the child's normal daily life, and become obsessions.
Obsessions are repetitive, disturbing, unpleasant and unwanted ideas or thoughts that repeatedly and uncontrollably arise in the child's mind, causing persistent fear and a high degree of anxiety. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors can manifest at any age.
The most frequent in childhood are:
- Washing or concern about catching diseases
- Repetitive behaviors to lie down or get dressed
- At bedtime they need familiar stories and tales to be re-told, as this helps stabilize their expectations and understanding of their world.
Children at school often develop group rituals when they learn to play, to do team sports. Older children and teens begin to collect objects and develop favorite activities. They are transitory symptoms associated with development, self-affirmation and constitution as a subject.
Children are considered to have a Disorder when these Manias, Obsessions, and Compulsions take up so much time each day that they impede normal daily functioning, and significantly disrupt their daily activities.
When children cannot do it, they suffer excessive anxiety, which they will manifest in crying, screaming, pulling their hair, aggressive behavior towards themselves or towards others, etc.
At Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) in children, compulsive behaviors predominate over obsessive thoughts.
The early diagnosis of the disease as well as the application of a special treatment when the first symptoms are observed contributes to increasing the quality of life of the child and to preventing the disorder from developing to a more serious state. In order to make the diagnosis, the support and involvement of parents is very important.
To calm the anxiety caused by obsessive thinking, the compulsion is performed. A compulsion is a ritualized behavior that is carried out for much longer than normal, repetitively and without interruption. The most effective and recommended treatment for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) would be to combine psychological therapy and medications. Psychological treatment includes cognitive and behavioral techniques:
- Cognitive techniques help children to identify and understand their fears and to learn new ways to resolve or reduce them without feeling the anxiety that they caused and led to compulsion as avoidance;
- Behavioral techniques help the child and their families make contracts or set guidelines to limit or change behaviors.
Medications used to treat OCD are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that serve to alleviate obsessive thoughts and thus improve compulsive behaviors; and they should always be indicated and taken under the supervision of the pediatrician.
Parents play a vital supportive role in any treatment process by supporting the child through all stages of the disorder and its treatment.
This article has been sent to us by Blanca Betes Tejero, clinical psychologist of Psiceduca.
You can read more articles similar to Manias and obsessions in children, in the category of Conduct on site.