Childhood OCPD: Children With Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

Page content

How Does OCPD Affect Children?

A child with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) acts quite differently from a normal child, and differently as well from a person with OCD. The child usually focuses obsessively on keeping his surroundings orderly, has perfectionist tendencies, and lacks flexibility both socially and mentally. For example, the child might carefully arrange his toys, obsess about following rules, balk at the slightest change of schedule, and have difficulty completing homework assignments because of his need for perfection. You may also find that the child has difficulty making simple decisions, such as about what to eat for breakfast or what to wear to school. Life with OCPD children may seem to move in slow motion, with nothing ever seeming to be completed because of the child’s need for everything to be “just so.”

The Importance of Treating Childhood OCPD

If OCPD remains untreated, it can develop into schizoid tendencies, lead to possible depression, and interfere with relationships. In the future the child with untreated OCPD may find it extremely difficult to make friends, as well as to hold down a job that requires any social interaction. When confronting OCPD, children and their parents need to understand the importance of fast and high-quality treatment in order to give them the best future possible.

OCPD Treatments for Children

Parents of children with OCPD have several options available that they can use to treat this personality disorder. Perhaps the most unique therapeutic option involves encouraging children to “go to war” with their OCPD symptoms. In this model, therapists might encourage the child to give their negative symptoms derogatory names so that they will be viewed as “enemies” that the child needs to defeat. The therapist encourages the child to keep track of victories over the enemies, and the family acts as a cheerleading team supporting the child’s efforts. This technique is best used for symptoms of OCPD like perfectionism and hoarding.

Group therapy can also be helpful for a child with OCPD. The goal of group therapy (or basic individual therapy) is to increase the child’s capacity to self reflect about how she feels when she does specific things, as well as when specific things happen to her.

In the classroom, the teacher can also help to support a child with OCPD. The teacher should encourage group work rather than individual tasks, stressing the importance of social interaction more than individual success. In addition, the teacher should minimize competitiveness as much as possible in the classroom, which will in turn lessen the pressure on OCPD children.

Medication, if other comorbid disorders exist. For example, a child with both OCPD and OCD may take SSRIs (selected serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to manage both conditions.


Personality Disorders in Children and Adolescents, by Paulina F. Kernberg, Alan S. Weiner, and Karen K. Bardenstein

This post is part of the series: Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD)

Many people confuse Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This series discusses the differences between the two, and discusses various aspects of OCPD.

  1. A Qualitative Definition of Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder?
  2. Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder vs OCD
  3. OCPD and Anger - Do They Go Together?
  4. How to Help Children who Have OCPD
  5. The Symptoms of OCPD in Marriage Partners