Obsessive thoughts and actions are unwanted, seemingly inescapable thoughts followed by repetitive, ritualized, compulsive behaviors or actions that the sufferer feels the urge to perform.

Often, these obsessive thoughts or behaviors can be an obstacle in the way of your child reaching their full potential.

A parent’s reaction to their child’s obsessive thoughts and actions should be one that is supportive and understanding. Your reaction sets the tone for how your child sees their problem and begins to overcome it.

You can have a bigger impact than you may think!

Important tips for reacting the RIGHT way

Here are nine important tips for reacting the right way to your child’s obsessive thoughts and actions:

  1. Don’t scold your child or yell at them to stop performing their rituals. Sometimes they are not strong enough to control their compulsive behaviors, and the pressure to stop will only make it worse.
  2. Remember, your child’s obsessive thoughts and actions are symptoms, not character flaws. They are not a child’s fault.
  3. Create a calm, understanding and supportive environment where you encourage your child’s progress in dealing with their obsessive thoughts and actions.
  4. Be as kind and patient as possible. Everyone overcomes their obsessive thoughts and actions at different rates. Try to avoid any day-to-day comparisons and rather recognise and praise any small improvements your child is showing.
  5. Focus on your child’s positive qualities and avoid making personal criticisms since such negativity can make symptoms worse.
  6. Praise any successful attempt at resisting obsessive thoughts and actions. Controlling impulses is not easy, and any attempt to do so should be recognised.
  7. Do not play along with your child’s rituals. Helping with rituals will only reinforce the behaviour. Support the person, not their rituals.
  8. Obsessive thoughts and actions should not be allowed to take over family life. Be supportive of your child’s situation but don’t let it become the ‘boss’ of the house. Giving in to obsessive thoughts and actions will not make them go away. Work together as a family to decide how you’ll tackle the symptoms to keep the home a low-stress environment.
  9. Find the humour. Seeing the humour and absurdity in some of the obsessive thoughts and actions can help your child become more detached from them. Of course, a situation is only humorous if the sufferer finds it funny, too. Don’t force them to laugh if they are uncomfortable doing so.

This technique was developed by Captain Calm — an app that uses the tools and techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Coaching like superpowers to help kids and teens solve their problems and unleash their full potential.