Before my son’s autism diagnosis I knew he was a child with his own preferences. I didn’t know if it was simply OCD, but if there were ever a three year-old child who displayed Obsessive–compulsive disorder like behavior, it was him! Oh my goodness! Keeping up with his preferences were, and still are, exhausting! The most problematic is when we make things or perform tasks out of his regular sequence. For example: If I make him a cup of flavored milk/water and put the flavoring into the cup before I put in the liquid, he won’t touch it and the situation may turn into a full-blown ordeal. I have to get a new cup and start completely fresh to avoid a meltdown! This is just one of the many, many, things he is working on. While I don’t have a cure-all for all of his quirks, I do have a few tips that I can recommend for anyone who is also experiencing similar situations with their child.
Mommy’s Playbook Tips for Parents of
Children who Display OCD Behavior
- Take note, mental or written, of what his/her preferences are. Try to stay on top of them even if they change frequently. (Example: Last week he only wanted to dip small pancakes, this weeks he just wants to cut big ones — take note)
- Make sure to share his/her preferences with other family members. They don’t have to like it, they just have to be aware so they don’t aggravate the situation. (This may be difficult for older siblings to grasp.)
- If you notice your child is sequencing or organizing toys – don’t mess it up! You can’t train them to get used to not doing it anymore by going by them and messing it up and pretending it was “fun”. I think Dad’s have the biggest struggle with this. They think exposing the child to situations that break the routine will “cure” them – this doesn’t work and only creates more tantrums. Try distraction or redirection instead.
- Teach the siblings to be understanding of his/her needs. This is harder than it sounds for some children. Some feel as though he/she is receiving special treatment or is loved more. Be open with siblings whenever possible and remind them often that this is not the case.
- My final tip is allowing the child choices. Many tantrums can be avoided if you ask them what they want! Have conversation with them about what they like or dislike. Examples: “Do you want to wear this shirt or that one?” “What cup would you like for me to use?” “Should mommy put the peanut butter on first or the jelly?”. “Hey, before I frost these cupcakes, do you want a plain cupcake instead?”
- OCD Symptoms in Toddlers
- OCD: Kids Health.org
- Understanding OCD in Toddlers
- Babycenter Article: Parent Question