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Hi kids! Let's read about compulsions...

Now that you've learned more about obsessions, you are now ready to find out more about compulsions. When boys and girls get unwanted thoughts, images and urges, they often do things over and over again because they think this will make their anxiety and fears go away. Do you remember that the things children do over and over again are called compulsions. So the word "compulsive" in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder means doing certain behaviours that fit the obsession. For example, fearing germs (obsession) means the compulsion will be to wash repeatedly to "get rid" of the germs. 

Let's see what compulsions the children below do, then you can talk with your parent or caregiver about what your compulsions might be. 

Billy's Compulsions

My compulsion is to give into what OCD wants. For example, if I want to wear my black jumper, my OCD tells me I have to wear my blue one or something bad will happen. I understand about magical thinking now, and that thoughts cannot make bad things happen, but I'm still unsure about taking risks and living with uncertainty. Doing what OCD wants makes my anxiety go down for a little while, but I haven't learned properly yet that doing compulsions makes my obsession worse. Caring Carol said she is going to give me some tips to help me make my own decisions about what I want to wear, and also about making decisions and choices about other things too. 

Sarah's compulsions

My compulsions are not only getting in and out of bed before eventually lying down, I also get my mom to say "goodnight" over and over too, until it sounds just right. I spend a long time dressing and undressing too, and until it feels right; and I will take forever touching one side of myself and then the other side until that feels right, or aligning things like my books until they match perfectly. Making sure all the things I've collected are still there takes a long time. I do these compulsions not only to "feel right" but also to feel less distress. But this doesn't last long, and so I do compulsions all over again. Soon Caring Carol will help me to understand that my compulsions make my obsessions get worse, not better.

Johnny's Compulsion

I wash my hands lots of times every day because I think this stops me from getting germs and spreading them; and also I want to stop feeling filthy. I feel less anxious when I wash my hands, but this doesn't last long, and soon I need to wash my hands again. I am confused about feelings not being facts, so Caring Carol is going to help me learn more about this soon.

Jasmine's compulsions

I feel a little bit better about what Caring Carol said about the chance of a burglar being down our street being close to zero. But I still feel like I have to give into the compulsion to double-check to make sure. I do this because it eases my distress, but only for a little while, and then I have to check again. I check by texting my mom; or going into rooms and checking the windows are closed when I'm home; and also checking the doors are locked over and over again.

George's Compulsions

I have been very worried about my obsessive thinking, especially about volcanoes erupting. So my compulsion is to avoid going out in bad weather; or if there is a storm coming I escape by hiding under my bed. When I do this, I spend lots of time ruminating about my fears. Caring Carol told me that ruminating is another type of compulsion that you cannot see because it's done quietly in the mind - ruminating is like constant worry. So the more I avoid and escape, the more I ruminate about everything that worries me and it just goes on and on. Caring Carol gave me a thinking time diary which helps and she is going to teach me about living with uncertainty too.

Question Section 

Here is a reminder of the questions in the QUESTION BOXES. See what you can remember about what you've just learned!

 Caring Carol says please ask your grown-up to help you!

  1. What makes children do their compulsions?
  2. Do you think compulsions make the obsessions better or worse?
  3. If someone has a fear of germs (obsession) what will their compulsion usually be? 
  4. Anxiety gets better after doing a compulsion, but not for long. True or false?
  5. If compulsions make OCD worse, what do you think is the best thing to do?

Well done for completing lesson two!


And now for your next lesson...

It's time to go to the next page for your next lesson. Simply click on the link below and learn how you can make your own choices by breaking the OCD cycle! 

Lesson 3

Parents and caregivers 

The learning outcome for this lesson is for your child to understand that compulsions are behaviours that they think will "ward off danger" or make things "feel right" and to relieve anxiety. A further learning objective is for your child to grasp that resisting giving into compulsions raises anxiety initially but actually decreases this in the long run. This will be covered later. This learning page also reinforces the importance of thoughts not being directly linked to an action. (Thought-action fusion - Rachman and Shafran 1999). Children are further encouraged to trust facts based on probability rather than ideas based on feelings or guess work. Finally because doubts versus certainty play a big part in OCD, this is touched on in this lesson to prepare for further learning.

Copyright © 2013 Carol Edwards Updated 2016, 2017 Images: royalty free advanced search.