(847) 579- 9317 support@copingpartners.com

Dr. Aryn FroumDr. Aryn Froum is a licensed clinical psychologist at Froum Health. She helps children, adolescents, adults, and families address challenges, foster resilience, and form better lives.

Dr. Froum was a Clinical Staff Member at The Family Institute at Northwestern University. She has worked in private practice for over ten years. Her extensive clinical experience has involved providing outpatient psychotherapy, consulting at a preschool and a summer program for gifted teens, and leading various groups for children and parents.

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 Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • What is OCD, and how is it manifested in children?
  • How OCD impacts daily functions
  • Why reassurance and accommodation are detrimental to OCD
  • Identifying reassurance seeking and mitigating reassurance giving
  • How to teach children to combat OCD
  • Dr. Forum’s approach to treating OCD
  • Dr. Froum explains how to relinquish the guilt of accommodating
  • The importance of OCD education

In this episode…

OCD is disruptive and difficult to manage without the proper tools. As the parent of a child diagnosed with OCD, how do you give them the right support without encouraging their compulsive behaviors?

According to Dr. Aryn Froum, understanding the science behind OCD and learning how to manage it is an essential first step. Parents often accommodate their child’s behaviors to ease anxiety, but this hinders progress and exacerbates the child’s symptoms. Instead, you should work with a therapist to help your child acknowledge OCD as separate from themselves and practice exposure therapy to mitigate fears.

In this episode of The Coping Podcast, Dr. Leigh Weisz hosts Dr. Aryn Froum, a licensed clinical psychologist, to talk about OCD in children. Dr. Froum also shares why you shouldn’t reassure or accommodate your child’s behaviors, her approach to treating OCD, and helpful resources to learn more about this disorder.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Coping Partners.

Coping Partners is a mental health practice dedicated to helping children, adolescents, and adults manage various challenges including anxiety, divorce, behavioral issues, relationship problems and much more in the Chicago suburbs.

Our practitioners are devoted to building on our clients’ strengths and bolstering weaknesses.

To gain insight and tools for getting unstuck check out our website at CopingPartners.com, email us at support@copingpartners.com.


Episode Transcript

Intro 0:01

Welcome to The Coping Podcast where we share strategies for coping with the stressors of life, especially the difficulties of parenting. And here is your host Dr. Leigh Weisz.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 0:15

Dr. Leigh Weisz, I am the host of The Coping Podcast, where I feature top experts on topics like raising healthy children, parenting and so much more. Past guests include therapist Dr. Colleen Cira, dietician, Lara Field, and many more. Before we get into today’s topic, I wanted to introduce a guest who I met when we shared an office at the Family Institute at Northwestern many months ago. Dr. Froum is a licensed clinical psychologist. And of course, I admire her because she earned her doctorate from the University of Michigan Go Blue. She did her research and clinical training for her dissertation on how children adolescents and their parents cope with stressful experiences. After her fellowship in Michigan, she joined her back of the Family Institute at Northwestern where we met, and she’s been in private practice in Skokie ever since for about 12 years now, please check out her website www.froumhealth.com. Just a quick disclaimer, the information provided is for educational and informational purposes only. This is not intended to provide mental health treatment and does not constitute a client therapist relationship. The information provided is not a replacement for being assessed and evaluated by a licensed professional and is not intended to replace mental health or medical advice. So thank you again, Dr. Froum for being here. We spoke a little bit ago about one of your areas of expertise which is treating children with OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder. And I’m so glad that you’re going to share with our parent listeners more about what this looks like in kiddos, and what parents can do. So I’m hoping you can start by just maybe telling us what OCD you know, looks like in children and even how you know what the O and the C and the D stands for? Sure. So thank you for inviting me. Okay, so OCD is an anxiety disorder.

Dr. Aryn Froum 2:25

But in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, the classification system, it actually has its own category, OCD and related behaviors, like skin picking excoriation disorder, trichotillomania, the hair pulling, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, because all of those things there are more as well have in common the obsessions and the compulsions. But it’s important to remember and might be pretty obvious to parents whose kids are struggling with it, that it is an anxiety disorder. Okay, there’s overlap as well, with emetophobia, the fear of vomiting, which is always fun to talk about, and tic disorders. So good to know too. So obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that cause significant anxiety. compulsions are behaviors, rituals, rigid rules to alleviate that anxiety that are except that and these behaviors, the compulsions are excessive. They’re exhausting. They’re time consuming, and sometimes they can be pretty bizarre. Right? So that’s the definition for adults as well. Right? And, you know, there are many forms of OCD. And it can be a little bit like Whack a Mole within the same person, you can see it manifest in different ways. I don’t know if you’d like me to chat a bit about that now. Yeah.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 3:59

For some maybe common examples of, you know, different ways that OCD might manifest.

Dr. Aryn Froum 4:04

Sure. And there can be crossover with sensory issues too, in the area of clothing, or hair, or food. So something for parents to know, too. And I will say that when I am sitting with a child or teenager with OCD, that they talk about how they have to do certain things, like maybe wash their hands over and over again, or arrange their hockey bag or their dance bag in just the right way, or say an elaborate prayer at night to keep their family members from becoming ill. So this is not something that they want to do. It’s not like a superstitious behavior. Right. So you won the first playoff game when you were wearing your Orange Socks. So you’re going to wear them for the next game to bring you good luck, right or you’re going to avoid walking on the cracks on the sidewalk or under a louder, those things are kind of short and silly and fun. OCD is much more serious. And it is a struggle. And it’s no picnic, for the person who is dealing with it, they don’t want to be doing these things.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 5:14

And the urges that you’re describing that I have to do, you know, are, are causing some dysfunction and pain from the person

Dr. Aryn Froum 5:22

major distress, and we’ll talk about when parents should be concerned. And they can kind of entangle the whole family, there can also be significant emotion dysregulation involved, because it is so distressing, that their brains are consumed by these obsessions. And oftentimes, their rituals are being thwarted, right by a parent, by a sibling, or by a teacher. Whereas these people have no idea what’s going on internally for that child,

Dr. Leigh Weisz 5:57

right. So inside the inside of the child’s head, they have to do XY and Z. But if, if a parent or a teacher isn’t allowing them to do that, they may have a temper tantrum

Dr. Aryn Froum 6:08

person, right? And, and the adults really might have no idea what is going on for the child. Because it can be really hard to articulate what they feel they need to do. There’s also a confusion, component, shame or embarrassment, those kinds of things. So don’t you

Dr. Leigh Weisz 6:28

know, this sounds crazy, but I have to fill in the blank.

Dr. Aryn Froum 6:31

Exactly. Kids will say that too. I know, this is gonna sound really weird, or there’s something wrong with me, or, and one of the reasons that I really enjoy treating OCD Lee, is because people come in, in such distress. And this is something that is treatable. And it’s not a quick fix. It’s not overnight, of course, right. But people can feel better, they can learn to manage it, and keep it contained, keep it from interfering in their lives.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 7:07

And you’re like, I like that, because it again, feels out of their control feels, you know, again, kind of crazy inside what they have to do. But there is lots of lots of good research on treating OCD and a very specific type of treatment. So again, it does feel like there’s hope once they find their way to you, and once they find their way to a practitioner who knows how to treat them.

Dr. Aryn Froum 7:28

Exactly. And fortunately, there are many of us in the Chicagoland area, and in really across the country. And I know at the end, we’ll talk about some resources. But you know, you and I were sort of joking about as we get further into this podcast, you know, this, what we describe as far as the treatment is not necessarily something parents should try at home, there are certain things that are helpful, and then other things that are unhelpful, you know, that they can engage in, but that with the exposure and response prevention, it is best guided by a knowledgeable, well trained therapist, for sure, for sure I’ll Okay, I think I interrupted myself in terms of the different ways OCD can manifest. Yeah, like, like,

Dr. Leigh Weisz 8:12

you know, I think you had spoken to me earlier about, you know, germs being a common one, but maybe you can give a couple examples, sort of like the family, the families in which this these behaviors manifest.

Dr. Aryn Froum 8:23

So there are the, you know, the germ contamination, right. Pretty common, especially among kids, you know, and in the aftermath of COVID,

Dr. Leigh Weisz 8:34

right. That was even before COVID. Right,

Dr. Aryn Froum 8:37

right. Well, so I said over and over again, to families i i was seeing during this time with the German contamination type, listen to the CDC, not OCD, right. You know, the rules to follow that. Okay. So there’s also a one that I see quite commonly, and not just in kids, but you know, teenagers adults, is the just right, symmetry, evenness, manifestation of OCD, needing things to be or feel or look a certain way, or just right, or to experience a sense of completion. Then tapping your

Dr. Leigh Weisz 9:20

pencil three times and often tapping it three times on the right, something

Dr. Aryn Froum 9:23

right. So there I remember from years ago, this boy that I saw, and he would get into the car on the passenger side, his right leg would hit the door. And then he felt this overwhelming urge that his left leg needed to touch the door too. And it was this whole ritual and quite upsetting for him. And there are numerous examples of this. So and, you know, we can chat about that too. And there’s also this one is a little bit trickier to understand both for parents and kids. And it’s also quite a alarming to the people who are experiencing it. And it’s called bad thoughts OCD. And so what I mean by that is, again, many different ways that it can show up. But maybe where a child is having mean thoughts about a friend or a family member that they really like, or they are having thoughts about wanting to harm these people. And again, this is just the OCD. And then it can also be worries that they did something that hurt somebody, or me, you know, got them in trouble. They can have thoughts about having, you know, cheated or sworn or lied, or that they will do that in the future. And there’s also an aspect of it, that can be sexualized thoughts. And this is absolutely mortifying to kids, whether it’s about a teacher, or a babysitter, or a classmate, like they are truly horrified and disgusted by these things. And so it’s not always clear initially, what is happening for them, you know, and it takes a lot of, you know, encouragement and gentleness and normalization, for that to come out.

Dr. Leigh Weisz 11:22

What so some of the bad thoughts if that’s the the obsessive obsession, what would be a compulsion that would kind of make that better? For sure. So

Dr. Aryn Froum 11:34

that it depends on what they’re struggling with, in particular, but it could be confessing these thoughts and looking for that reassurance. Like, am I a bad person? Right? Is there something terribly wrong with me? There can be over apologizing, you know, so So saying, Sorry for accidentally bumping somebody in the hallway. So you see a lot of the confessing the apologizing, and then there could be all sorts of other rituals, right? So we were just kind of describing the obsessions, there can be for any of these types of OCD, right, and many more compulsions that I’ll get into here. But checking, counting, ordering things, arranging things, repeating certain behaviors, and, again, that reassurance seeking,

Dr. Leigh Weisz 12:28

right, right, wow, I can only imagine the teenager, let’s say, Who is brave enough to tell, you know, his or her parents, the sexual, you know, thoughts that are inappropriate, let’s say that that they’re thinking about, and this is plaguing them enough to get to a therapist, it’s just it’s so difficult to imagine.

Dr. Aryn Froum 12:49

Well, and I and I’ve heard that even from littler kids. Oh, yeah. And you know that, but as well with the thoughts about wanting to harm somebody right here, right, because I don’t really want to do but as we can chat about the way I explain OCD to kids and families is that it is a brain trick, a false alarm, brain spam, of bully all these different ways to think about it. It’s not me, it’s OCD, right, these bad thoughts that they’re having, do not say anything about who they are as a person. It’s not reflective of them. Right. So we say, you know, OCD is weird. You’re not,

Dr. Leigh Weisz 13:35

right. No, I think that makes a lot of sense. Because I always talk with kids about, you know, how we have junk mail or

Dr. Aryn Froum 13:42

spam, spam, spam, that’s

Dr. Leigh Weisz 13:44

exactly right. You know, we have a little filter that takes it out of the inbox and puts it into a folder so we can kind of ignore it or delete it, you know, buy it

Dr. Aryn Froum 13:53

or just like, let it hang out there. redirect our attention. And it’s funny, Lee, I used to say junk mail all the time. How many kids and teenagers are, you know, using email? So with the brain spam, at least they have some or scam? Likely? And I’ll still say junk mail. But sometimes I get these blank looks

Dr. Leigh Weisz 14:13

totally, totally no, that that makes sense. Yeah. But yeah, so it’s like, the brain can’t filter out, right? What’s kind of material we should pay attention to versus what is spam? And

Dr. Aryn Froum 14:25

or well said, it all seems urgent and important. And, you know, a few points. This is reminding me of some things that I am sure to share with parents because they’re quite distraught to generally in those first sessions, because it’s like, what is going on with my kid, you know, is so a few important things to remember. Which is OCD, like you just said in terms of that filter. It’s like having a faulty enough switch. It never feels like enough, right? So you know, the and checking the front door to make sure it’s locked over and over again for rereading the same paragraph in case you missed a word erasing until there’s a hole in the paper. Right. And it’s lost disorder. The common ones. Yeah, absolutely. sanitizer, you know that it’s a disorder of self doubt. Right? They can’t ever be sure. Right, that their hands are truly clean, right? Or that their mom won’t get cancer if they walk through a doorway, a certain way.

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