Common Compulsions — Symptoms of Pediatric OCD

Compulsions, or repetitive behaviors, are characteristics of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). They help relieve distress from obsessions.

Following are common compulsions found in children and adolescents with OCD.

Washing, Cleaning, Grooming

  • Need to wash a certain number of times or a certain way to be “clean enough.”
  • Excessive use of soap or cleaning products.
  • Excessive use of toilet paper.
  • Extreme caution to prevent certain objects from touching other objects or people he or she perceives to be contaminated.

Repeating, Redoing

  • Rewriting.
  • Saying a phrase repeatedly until it's “just right.”
  • Rereading.
  • Retracing steps.

Touching, Tapping

  • Touching or tapping corners of objects.
  • Touching objects that others have just touched.

Checking

  • Repeatedly checking to make sure:
    • Doors and windows are closed and locked.
    • All the lights are off.
    • The stove is turned off or appliances are unplugged.
    • All necessary items are in his or her book bag.
  • Excessively checking the time.
  • Repeatedly reviewing his or her answers on a test to the point of not finishing or being late.

Counting

  • Counting things such as steps, objects, words, or numbers.
  • Repeated mental computations.

Ordering, Arranging

  • Lining up items in a certain way.
  • Organizing school work or objects in his or her room according to a certain pattern.
  • Straightening books or papers until they are “even.”
  • Excessively categorizing music, videos, games, or movies.

Reassurance seeking

  • Repeated questions about whether or not he or she:
    • Understood directions.
    • Will get sick.
    • Is going to be late.
  • Need to know details.
  • Repeated requests for parents or others to feel his or her forehead for signs of a fever.
  • Excessive questioning about whether or not food was prepared correctly.

Confessing, Apologizing

  • Need to tell excessive details.
  • Apologizing for minor mistakes.
  • Often, repeatedly apologizing not only for his or her own actions but for the actions of others.

Saving, Hoarding

  • Inability to throw away items that others view as “junk” or garbage:
    • Broken toys.
    • Used tissues.
    • Useless tools.
    • Old worksheets.
    • Food wrappers.

Mental Rituals

  • Excessive and ritualized prayers.
  • Visualizing a “good“ thought to cancel out a “bad“ thought.
  • Mentally repeating certain words or numbers.

Make an Appointment with the Pediatric OCD Program

To a schedule an evaluation of your child's symptoms to see if they meet the criteria for an OCD diagnosis, or to discuss OCD treatment options, call 412-235-5354.

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