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Claudia 127

What to do when my son gets 'stuck'

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My 13 year old son has extreme ocd which has been getting progressively worse since lockdown. CAMHS are involved but I'm really struggling for strategies to help him when he is 'stuck'. By that I mean when he is unable to do a simple task because he is paralyzed with fear. Things like putting shoes on can take 30 minutes and it means that he is not going to bed until 2am or later because he is trying to fit everything into his day.

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Hi Claudia,

I'm sending your son a big virtual hug. :hug:It's terrifying when you get 'stuck' as you feel there's no way out of the moment you're in. There's no easy answer, but my advice (from personal experience) would be:

1. Try to help him become calmer - his mind will be racing at a million miles an hour, so simply doing some slow breathing with him can help. It also gives him a temporary different focus and that can be all that's needed to get out of the cycle of 'stuck' thoughts.

2. Try to break down whatever it is he's stuck on into stages and encourage him to move forward one stage at a time.

3. Don't be afraid to ask why when he says he can't do something. If he reveals something of his thought processes in the answer it can sometimes help you to come up with alternative stategies that might be more acceptable.

4. When time is short (have to get to school on time etc) sometimes you could offer him 2 alternatives and let him choose the lesser of 2 evils. Feeling that he's in control (making choices and doing it his way as much as possible) can be make getting to the end goal seem possible again. (When 'stuck' the task feels permanently impossible so just taking away the permanancy of impossible and making it feel do-able is a step forward and can calm his mind enough for him to work out his own way through.)

5. At bedtime allow some things to be left to the next day. Depending what he's stuck on it may be you letting him away with some tasks (eg. not brush his teeth this one time) or it may mean you encouraging him to let go of his belief that everything he's trying to get done needs done before bed. If he feels unsafe leaving out part of his routine consider offering to help him sort whatever it is tomorrow..but bed now.

Hope those ideas help.


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