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My 3 yr old seems to have separation anxiety and some sort of OCD(?)

My 3 yr old son has been in daycare since he was 9 weeks old. And let me just say, I have NEVER abandoned my child. I have 2 older children and of course there were days when they would cry and yell, "Mommy! Don't leave!". However, my 3 yr old does this EVERY TIME I drop him off, regardless of where it may be. This includes when I may run up to the store and I leave him behind with my husband, (his daddy). He even stands at the bathroom door and will yell, "Mommy", until I open the door. He has always been this way. When I pick him up or come home from work, almost immediately he wants me to pick him up and hold him. I cannot even sit down to eat dinner without him begging for me to let him sit in my lap. I thought this would stop and it hasn't. Furthermore, he has become obsessed with Football jersey's, and lord forbid you 'try' to trick him into telling him a baseball jersey is the same, he is very quick to correct you and will pitch a fit if you do not give him the exact jersey he has been screaming for. If it's dirty, he will throw it in the dryer and ask you to turn it on so it can "dry". He thinks by doing this, he is cleaning it and it will be clean again. Afterward, he will not only put his jersey on, but will put on his "football" pant, (aka T-ball pants), and then his "football" cleats, (aka baseball cleats). This is everyday. Literally from the moment he walks into the door til the next morning when it's time for school. Recently, he added on to this everyday ritual by making sure that every one of his foot ball jerseys are "clean", (in most cases they are because I am tired of running back and forth to the dryer), and then HE has to hang them up on a coat hanger and we are asked to hang them up in his closet. No matter how many times we have spoken to him or even tried to re-direct his attention to something else. Nothing has seemed to work. I would also like to add that this is something that has been going on now for over a year. Started out with baseball, but as soon as football season hit and his daddy bought him a football jersey, that's where it kind of escalated. Would we have bought the jersey knowing that he would be acting this way? Ummm, never. I will say, the child can throw a baseball directly to whomever he is throwing to, dribble an adult sized basketball and (let me not forget), he can throw a child size football to you and even have a little bit of a spinner on it. I am thankful that my child is athletically inclined, but does this mean he has to drive us crazy at this same time? Please tell me I'm not the only one out there who has gone through something similar.

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Asked by lrobbins05 at 11:08 PM on Nov. 13, 2012 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 1 (2 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • email me mama, I have a child just like this 0- OCD Tendancies but he is very strong willed, knows what he wants and when he wants it and HOW He wants it - very clean, corrects everything you do or say, doesnt believe you when you say anything, can't let certain ritutals go, very particular have you seen big bang theory?>:? he is sheldon or my MIL calls him MONK - honestly his quirks were so extreme we had him evaluated it through ecfe and therapist for "something" to give him a diagnosis so I could learn how to raise him - he is just VERY Strong willed and extreme! he's also VERY smart and will not attempt anything until he's perfected it in his head. Period. No matter what.

    Answer by maxsmom11807 at 11:14 PM on Nov. 13, 2012

  • It sounds like it's time to sit him down and explain the new rules and consequences of his not following the rules. I know from experience that kids have their own quirks! This worked for me, but it wasn't easy. The follow through is critical. Also, try to avoid processed foods for a few months and see how his behavior is overall.

    Answer by dnalnn at 12:57 AM on Nov. 14, 2012

  • I would have him evaluated, not necessarily for OCD but those sound like some rigid ritualistic behaviors.

    Answer by missanc at 10:43 AM on Nov. 14, 2012

  • I think kids can get more rigid, demanding & inflexible when they are kind of working "in tandem" with parents to avoid big emotional upsets. I find this with my own kids -- when I am resisting their feelings (pretty much in order to try to maintain my own internal equilibrium) they can get more demanding & insistent. And also really upset about the littlest things (that aren't to their specifications. lol)
    When my daughter was 3 (it was a high-stress time in our lives; I was pregnant with twins, my husband got a cancer diagnosis), there were times when it started to feel compulsive...insisting on do-overs, or insisting that we had to go back to where we were when something happened (as in, if driving) and start from that point with the change.
    But, the thing was we WERE resisting her big feelings. We wanted to keep the upsets at bay, and to work with her (which is important), but it was turning into compensating & avoiding.

    Answer by girlwithC at 4:12 PM on Nov. 14, 2012

  • When you try to compensate children for their upsets or fix things ("keep them happy") so they won't be upset, it is a pretty anxiety-fueled activity (on the part of the parents) and the demands tend to escalate. Children get the message that their parents "can't handle" their big feelings, and this is not a good feeling for them. Particularly because it's important for children (all people) to shed their emotional hurts & disappointments by expressing upset feelings. So the emotional need tends to build.
    What I have found to be the biggest help is to get regulated, myself, so that my child's big, upset feelings do not rattle me. Things in my home & family improved significantly when I began to notice how triggered I'd get, because of an unconscious belief that a mom's "job" was to fix things & upset feelings equaled Something Was Wrong. I'd default into explaining mode, or I would begin reasoning, or I'd point out alternate

    Answer by girlwithC at 4:23 PM on Nov. 14, 2012

  • points of view (things that made it better or ways it wasn't so bad, reasons it couldn't happen as desired, etc.) All these responses were efforts to talk the child out of being upset. That is why they caused problems & also caused the child to "step up" the demands.
    Children try to orchestrate situations that will let them off-load the feelings that have them feeling off inside. These are "pretexts" to get upset about, so they can do some emotional work. What they need is safety & support. When parents are caught up in fixing things or accommodating what they can so as to keep the child from getting upset, the child's instinctive emotional agenda gets thwarted. They are sensing anxiety in their parents, not an emotional anchor. They get the message that the parent is desperate to avoid those feelings. The child absorbs this anxiety.
    Parents eventually get resentful (as the demands get increasingly unreasonable) & THAT isn't

    Answer by girlwithC at 4:40 PM on Nov. 14, 2012

  • safe, either. Then a child is facing real negativity from his parent for the feelings he has. (This is because parents start to feel irritated when all their efforts to "fix" things & help end up NOT helping, and the upset continues, or escalates.)
    But when parents don't view our children's "negative" feelings as Something Wrong that is our job to solve or fix so that they won't be upset anymore, then there's less tension in us in response to our kids' feelings. We can just be with them.
    Kids need to process their feelings. We can give them a safe space.
    With your son, it could be about holding a limit, but not in an annoyed or rejecting way, just holding the limit that you're not going to wash that shirt now. And conveying that his anger/tantrum in response makes sense.
    My guess is that he has a LOT of feelings stuck that are driving his rigidity & his demanding behavior. It's like he's set up lots of "hoops" to jump through.

    Answer by girlwithC at 4:52 PM on Nov. 14, 2012

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