Parents Impact on Children with Anxiety and OCD

Understanding How Parents Impact Children with OCD


Parent accommodation refers to the actions parents take to ease their child’s anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). These actions can include helping with rituals, giving reassurance, or changing the environment to avoid triggers. Understanding how family dynamics affect pediatric OCD and finding out what leads to parent accommodation is essential for helping kids and their families effectively.

Parents are vital in supporting their children with OCD, but research shows that they can accidentally make the symptoms worse through accommodating behaviors. These behaviors can range from simple things like joining in rituals to more complex actions like changing schedules or avoiding certain situations. Although these accommodations may help the child feel better for a while, they make the child believe their fears are real and need special attention.

Understanding the reasons behind parent accommodation is important to understand. Take a moment to think about how parents can accidentally accommodate a child’s anxiety.

Factors Contributing to Parental Accommodation

Several factors influence parent accommodation in pediatric OCD, including family dynamics, parental anxiety, and the child’s symptom severity.

Family dynamics play a big role. Every family has stress and times of feeling overwhelmed, but  when there are increases in stress families are more likely to engage in accommodating behaviors. Parents might accommodate their child’s OCD to keep the peace.

Parent’s anxiety is also a key factor. Parents with high anxiety levels are more likely to accommodate because they want to relieve their own distress or protect their child from anxiety. Parents with more anxiety tend to be more involved in their child’s rituals, making the child’s OCD worse.

Effects of Parent Accommodation on Pediatric OCD

When parents change their behavior to help their child’s OCD, it can have big effects on the child’s well-being. While parents want to help, excessive accommodation can make the child’s symptoms worse.

When parents always help with rituals, they tell the child that their fears are real and they need help to reduce their anxiety. This makes the child rely on their parents more and increases their anxiety.

High levels of parent accommodation can also make treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) less effective. CBT involves facing fears without rituals, but if parents always accommodate, it stops the child from getting the full benefit of therapy.

Reducing parental accommodation can be tough because parents want to help, but research shows it leads to better treatment results and improved functioning in children with OCD.

Strategies for Reducing Parent Accommodation

Evidence-based techniques can help reduce parent accommodation. One is exposure and response prevention (ERP), which involves gradually exposing the child to their fears without letting them do their usual rituals. This helps the child learn that their anxiety will decrease without rituals. By using ERP, parents can help their child face their fears and resist accommodating.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is another helpful tool for reducing parental accommodation. It helps parents recognize when they accommodate and gives them better ways to respond. CBT also helps parents understand how accommodation makes OCD worse and teaches them how to better support their child.

Parents should also take care of themselves and seek support. Parenting a child with pediatric OCD can be tough. Engaging in self-care activities and seeking support from other parents can help manage stress and well-being.


In conclusion, understanding parent accommodation in pediatric OCD is crucial for effective treatment. Family dynamics, parental anxiety, and the child’s symptom severity all play a role in accommodation.

Strategies like psychoeducation, exposure and response prevention, and cognitive-behavioral therapy can help reduce accommodation and support children in managing their OCD.