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Dr. Bonnie
Dr. Bonnie, Psychologist and RN
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2189
Experience:  35 years experience counseling children and families
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My 9 year old boy just informed us that hes having these bad

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My 9 year old boy just informed us that he's having these bad thoughts. This has been occuring over the past year and they are thoughts that he must do something (often twice) otherwise something bad may happen to him. For example, he may have to check his closet twice to make sure there's nothing in it. He doesn't want to talk about it too much, although he is very interested in seeing a doctor to help him. It happens a few times a week often during the day. He doesn't have any other rituals. He's a otherwise very happy (although somewhat sensitive), socially "normal", physically active child. Any thoughts what he might be experiencing and how to get him the best help? Will he get better?

Thank you!!!!
Hello and thank you for consulting JA,
These thoughts represent obsessional thinking with a compulsive behavior (OCD). This is an anxiety disorder and his sensitive nature (with mild anxiety, I assume) may be connected to all of this. If untreated it could expand to other similar things like counting tiles on the ceiling, etc. etc.

The treatment starts with several sessions with a cognitive behavioral therapist:

This type of therapist will help him see why his thoughts are irrational and help him to change them. The therapist will also teach him coping strategies such as relaxation and guided imagery.

You can also work on this problem at home using bibliotherapy (reading books!!). Here is a good book for this:

There are also child relaxation and guided imagery books, CD's and Youtube videos.

Finally, if the behavior begins to interfere with functioning (i.e., takes too long to get ready and chronically late, is very upset by his thoughts and behaviors), the doctor should be consulted. There is medication for this for use in extreme situations (but you have not described an extreme situation).

I hope that I answered your question. He will get better and this is easy to treat.

Warm regards,
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thank you very much for your response. I guess the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree -- I have experienced axienty from time to time, although only later in life (starting in my 20's).


I'm hoping we are catching this early. He doesn't have other typical OCD tendancies that I know about -- hand washing, fear of germs, counting. He also has lots of friends. However, he always been fearful of things (burglers, fires, etc) and feels most at ease when his parents are around (fears we will leave him, hates when we travel). We always chalked this up to being "sensitive". Are these behaviors also related to OCD/has this been occuring for a longer time than we thought?


What is the prognosis over his lifetime, with an excellent cognitive behavioralist? Will he always be pre-disposed?


Thank you!

Yes, pre-disposed is the word. It is apparent that anxiety "runs in families". Everything you mentioned is related because they are all expressions of anxiety (being fearful of certain things, separation anxiety, OCD). He will learn coping strategies that he will use for the rest of his life. I taught my son Centering Exercises when he was your son's age and he still uses them as an adult.

Here is another book for bibliotherapy:

But he will always be "pre-disposed".

Dr. Bonnie and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your response. I've purchased both books as a starting place for us to help him work through his anxiety/ocd.
Excellent start!!! Good luck.