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OCPD or normal pubescent behavior?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

DD11 has started being excessively anal lately. She used to just pile her shoes by the front door and never put anything away, but lately, she's become obsessed with things being "neat" (i.e., not actually clean or anything, just organized how she likes it). For example, she will announce that she has "cleaned" her bathroom, but there's still toothpaste all over the sink and poop smears in the toilet. Yes, everything on the counter is organized, but it's still a C+ in cleanliness overall. So, she is definitely NOT obsessive-compulsive at all, she doesn't have to "check" things or wash her hands (I always have to remind her), it's not OCD. I looked it up and found Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, though, and it seems like her. It says, however, that it's either genetic (no one on either side of the family is like this) or caused by trauma (she has never suffered any trauma of any kind) so I'm left wondering how this developed/is this just a "stage". DP and I talked about it and we both had periods of OCD behavior around the same age as DD. DP's was manifested by having to kiss all of her 50+ stuffed animals good night every night, taking exactly 7 sips of water from the water fountain, etc. Mine was more of a "no stepping on cracks"/only taking two steps in this square, then one in the next on the sidewalk, repeat/repetitive counting, etc. situation. It lasted only a couple of years for both of us and neither of us have any OCD tendencies as adults (well, I wash my hands a lot, but that's just because I worked in food service for years and am careful about cross contamination).


This just started maybe 3 months ago. But it's getting seriously out of hand. I leave a pair of sandals by the door to take out the trash/feed the animals/etc that I use every day, but every time they're out, DD puts them in my room (throws them on my floor, not put away, mind you), even though I've told her not to. She will also come home and say things like "Ugh this house is DISGUSTING" because there are two rinsed dishes in the sink and a stack of mail on the counter. Not disgusting by any normal person's standards. We keep our house clean, DP teaches piano lessons here so we clean almost every day, the kitchen is cleaned every day. Nothing is ever dirty enough to complain about. She also likes to stack things up so they look "neat", regardless of the fact that one stack was older DD's school application, other stack was guitar tabs, and the other bills. They were actually organized, but she had to go and stack them all together for some reason. We tell her every day to stop doing this, that we need to know where things are, but she doesn't listen. I even found her this morning "putting my keys away" in a random place when we were literally leaving in 5 minutes, and she put them someplace I would never think to look for them, i.e., not "where they go" so we're having a LOT of issues with her over this.


Did any of you have kids 10-12 who went through this phase? I feel like it's not that uncommon but it's starting to get out of hand so I'd be willing to take her to therapy to nip it in the bud if it's not :(

post #2 of 5

 Honestly, I wouldn't worry about "diagnosing" your daughter for OCD or any other DSM disorder.  Additionally, she is too young for a personality disorder diagnosis. 


Just focus on the changing behaviors and how they are affecting her (and the family's) life.  Have you talked to her about the changes you are seeing in her behavior? 

post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 

Yes, and that's why I'm so concerned. She doesn't see what she's doing as abnormal, at all, she thinks we're the abnormal ones. If she knew she was taking it a little far, I would certainly have assumed it was a phase. It's just the severity and the fact that she doesn't see the problem.

post #4 of 5

Instead of being concerned whether she sees the "abnormality" of it, what is her response when you explain the difficulty her actions are causing others?  Can she understand that regardless of how she feels about your shoes near the door, there is a reason for them to be there?  For me a natural consequence for that one would be that if the shoes are removed she can be responsible to complete the tasks that had necessitated the shoes.  If she only wants one pile of papers, she can go find three separate folders, and with you re-sort the papers into the folders that can then be stacked while still keeping the material divided.

Could you allow her to re-organize the bathroom supplies After she has appropriately cleaned everything?  This might also require you to provide new containers for household members supplies to be sorted into, but making her learn to clean might help her realize that her random re-organization is Not "cleaning" and doesn't actually contribute to the household. 

I'm also curious if your partner is a newer family member and perhaps the "changes" are happening in a response to a change in family dynamics... just something to think about but I have seen different variations on a theme when family members are added or move away..

post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 

We clean as a family a couple of times a week, so she knows what actual cleaning entails. We have filing cabinets to organize papers in, it's just there's usually a stack (or two) of things we have out specifically to use in the near future (a bill that needs to get paid, papers to go back to school, etc) on top of the cabinet. This seems like a reasonable system for use, and it works for us. She is generally the last person who has anything in this stack, since she's in elementary school and often doesn't have papers of this type, so she doesn't understand why they're important to us I guess. If it's something she doesn't use personally, she thinks it needs to be tucked away somewhere. In her room, her entire desk is covered in things she uses or at least thinks she will even though she has a good 2 shelves in her closet she could use to put things away. That is the main part of the issue we're having.


There is no one new besides her little brother (from her dad, who she sees 1-2 times a week) who is 16 months old, so that transition has been over for awhile. I think it's more an effect of puberty, or something else.

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