Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): symptoms in children

Use the following checklist to find out if your child has symptoms that are consistent with those of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

  1. Does performing a certain ritual feel like an urgent necessity of life to your child?
  2. Do recurrent intrusive thoughts cause your child discomfort or anxiety?
  3. Does an extreme need for order and cleanliness force your child to tidy things/bathe/shower/wash his or her hands excessively?
  4. Does your child do things over and over (such as get up and down from a chair, count, tap)?
  5. Does your child repeatedly perform certain routines to prevent ‘bad things’ from happening?
  6. Does your child have great difficulty discarding things even when they have no practical value?

Some of the repetitive things that children with OCD do include:

  • worry about germs from other people;
  • repeatedly wash their hands;
  • check things many times (such as locks on doors); and
  • have to tap or count repeatedly.

If your child's need for such repetitive behaviours causes marked distress or significantly interferes with normal routines, relationships or social functioning, see your doctor.

Last Reviewed: 9 January 2013

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1. Obsessive compulsive disorder in childhood and adolescence (revised October 2008). In: eTG complete. Melbourne: Therapeutic Guidelines Limited; 2012 Nov. http://online.tg.org.au/complete/ (accessed Jan 2013).
2. American Academy of Adolescent Psychiatry. Facts for families – Obsessive compulsive disorder in children and adolescents (December 2011). http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/obsessivecompulsive_disorder_in_children_and_adolescents (accessed Jan 2013).
3. MayoClinic.com. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (updated 15 Dec 2010). http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/obsessive-compulsive-disorder/DS00189 (accessed Jan 2013).


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