I was approached by my sister-in-law about concerns she had over her 8year old daughter's behavior. My niece has had three seperate instances of "bad thoughts" in her mind that distressed her enough to tell her mother about them. The first occured late one night when my niece states that the thought appeared in her mind "i wish mom were dead". She doesn't understand why she thought that, she was extremely upset over it and decided to tell her mother about it so she could "feel better about it". The next incident occured when the family was watching a show where a jet skier crashed and was seriously injured and the thought popped into her mind that "that should happen to dad". Again my niece was extremely disturbed by this thought and immediately told her mother of it to gain some comfort. The last incident involved a grandparent that passed 9 months ago. My niece was playing with my daughter who at that moment began coughing. My niece looked toward the sky and asked her gradmother(who is deceased)to help my daughter stop coughing. The cough persisted and after some time my niece states that the thought "grandma is stupid!" popped into her mind. Again becoming distressed over this thought she told her mother. My sister-in-law is at a loss and does not know if she needs to address this problem or ignore it hoping it will go away. I questioned my niece about the 2 thoughts concerning her parents and asked if she had been upset with her parents on those days. She emphatically replied "NO!" and my sister-in-law corroborated that nothing had occured prior to the incident. Additionally my niece was reluctant to speak to me about his because she felt embarassed by it. She added that she thought she was stupid and weird for having these thoughts and is extremely distressed when they form in her mind. This doesn't seem to fit the bill for OCD because the obsessive thought does not persist for an hour or more and there does not seem to be any compulsive behavior following it. Any insight or advice would be greatly appreciated.
Obsessive-type OCD can be difficult to discern in youn children because the condition is, to some extent, 'hidden'. That is, children can be having obsessive thoughts that they do not reveal, and they may be engaging in mental activities which are not observable and which are compulsive in nature. Now, it's not clear that this is what is occurring with your niece, but it is a distinct possibility. If the symptoms were confined to only what you have described, it really wouldn't compel any need for specialized intervention. However, it's likely that your niece has other troubling (to her) thoughts, beyond those which she has conveyed. It would be prudent to arrange an evaluation with a mental health professional who will be able to inquire about your niece's mental status and investigate thoe possibility of emotional disorder. If she is otherwise functioning well, it is likely this situation will not really get in her way very much. But it is worth pursuing a bit (in particular if there is any famiy history of anxiety or other emotional disorder).
Hi, I have noticed some similar behavior in my daughter. Although I am not sure this will help, I think it may be of use to you. I am not a psycologist or anythone like that, but I recommend art therapy. I term it "art therapy" simply because it helps the child and YOU to deal with uncomfortable or scary issues. All you have to do is go to the store and buy some markers, crayons, and white large paper. Sit down with your eight-year-old niece and ask her to draw how she feels today. Tell her to be creative! Each day you guys do this and when the "scary" or "odd" thinking pops up, ask her to draw what she is feeling or seeing. Sooner than you know you will have some answers. Children do not rationalize like we do. It sounds like the topic of "death" is on her mind. Perhaps she is simply trying to deal with the emotions associated with this. Lastly, I recommend theis book, The Way I Feel Written And Ill. by Janan Cain. This is a simple book with lots of good pictures. It contains very little writing, and is a great book to engage in concversation. The idea is to get to the root of the negative feeling or behavior. Good LucK to YOU!!!:)Nicky
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