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I am out of ideas and making myself a wreck with worry. I have an amazing 4.5 year old son. A little before he turned 4 I decided to have a talk with him about something I thought was common sense. He spends most of his time naked, I did the same as a child and it is fine with me. He likes to explore his body, this is also fine with me. I decided to tell him one day that if he had his fingers in his bum that we should clean them before he touches food or his face. Just an FYI sort of talk, or so I thought. Since then he has become obsessed with clean hands and it is spreading. I am by no means a neat freak, hardly. I do not use purell or even wash my hands as much as I probably should. He now asks if he is clean constantly. It began with asking if poop was on everything, from his hands, to his feet to his food. Now he asks about everything, he asks if he can eat an apple wedge if it accidently touches his face. I have tried saying yes to all, it is clean sweetie, don't worry. I have tried telling him there is nothing wrong with dirt, I have tried telling him not to ask. I have tried ignoring the questions and he will repeat them for hours nonstop.<br>
He is not an obsessive child in any other way and before this never had any rituals or routines at all. He is a very go with the flow kinda kid. He has no issue with getting his hands dirty with dirt or paint or tossing rocks. This is just out of control. I have tried reading up on it and the literature all states ocd is developed later, unless a severe routine/ritualistic thing which is not him. I just don't know how to treat this. It consumes our days, whether we are home or out. We were at a amusement park place and all he did was ask if he was clean, his hands etc. all day. I don't want to make him neurotic. I feel like it has gotten to the point when I am trying to force him to stop which we all know is ridiculous and ineffective.<br>
Please, anyone with true knowledge of this or what I can do or should do. I want to help him and stop my obsessive worrying out this.<br><br>
Thanks
 

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One thing you might want to do is just make him responsible for the cleanliness - have a stool by the sink so he can wash up when he wants to. Have wipes in a backpack he can wear so when you're out he can wipe his hands if he wants to. And if he asks you if he is dirty, ask him what he thinks. Instead of providing "counter pressure" to his obsession, give into it.<br><br>
It sounds like the interaction/tension with you is also something that he is obsessing over, so I would remove all tension, if you can.<br><br>
Six months is a long time for something like this to last, so I would also talk to your pediatrician.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the suggestions, he does have wipes and a stool for the sink. It doesn't seem like it is about cleaning as much as asking, and yes you are right I have to de-stress about it. I am sure I am perpetuating it further. As for pediatrician I would not take him to a doc for this, it is why I ask here. I also do ask him what he thinks all the time. I also have been doing this thing where I ask then tell him to kiss his hands , he will even say he knows it is clean, but then less than a minute later he will ask again. It is like it has become a habit of sorts.<br><br>
One thing I want to ass and emphasize, he isn't worried about dirt. Today we went to feed the ducks, it had rained this morning. He fell once and got mud on his overalls and hands, I wiped his hands, but the wipes were in the car, after I brushed off the loose dirt he was fine, couldn't have cared. His hands were visibly brown from the mud, but he was fine. This is NOT an anal kid in any way. He is not hyper-sensitive he is not a worrier at all. He is just in this strange habit of constantly asking about if he is clean. I lean towards it being about some sort of re-assurance from me. I am an ap mama and never leave him, ever. I also talk with him all day long so I am not sure where it stems from, but I feel like I am missing some need of his and that is causing this.
 

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Maybe he's not obsessing, but just asking? I mean, a minute later his hands could be dirty again!<br><br>
I like the idea of turning it around and asking him what he thinks. I would also explain to him how often YOU wash your own hands "I wash my hands after I go to the bathroom but then I usually don't worry about how clean my hands are until I use the bathroom again, but I will wash them before preparing food, just to be extra careful."
 

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Both of my ds's went through such a phase. With ds1, it was constant handwashing after going to the bathroom and before eating, he'd obsess about it. This was from 3-5. DS2 gets obsessive like you are describing, where he continually asks about something and it is normally realted to being "clean". For example, after I gave him the talk about handwashing after using the bathroom, especially after pooping, he started obsessing about it. "Mom, I scratched my butt, should I wash my hands?" stuff like that.....all the time.<br><br>
I don't know why he does this, as we are really relaxed and not hyper-vigalant about it, but he seems to take health issues very seriously.<br><br>
I did have a talk with him about how he doesn't always need to ask me about it, he can use his own judgement. That seemed to help.
 

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I just finished chemo, that I started in September. I had a talk with ds about germs, dirt, washing hands etc. I told him how important it was to wash our hands, because of the medicine mommy takes, germs can make her sick easily. We were washing hands before every meal and every time we got back into the house from anywhere.<br><br>
He was obsessed at first, worried about germs, and washing his hands if any little thing got on them. He asked constantly if things were "dirty" or "germy" or if his hands were clean enough. I felt guilty and worried, I thought I made him obsessive about it. But he got over it in the past 6 months. Now I can be more relaxed about it, and I actually have to bug him to wash his hands.
 

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I had no idea this was so common! DD went through a period last year when she was terrified of germs and was very anxious about washing her hands.
 

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my ds (4) went through something like this. He was just trying to figure out the whole thing. He was really worried about any germs that might have gotten anywhere from anything. Now it seems to have calmed down.
 

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Whew...! I'm relieved to hear that this is fairly common!<br>
My 3 year old son has very recently started being concerned (sometimes overly) about his hands being dirty too.<br>
His thing is that he will smell them and then tell me he has to go wash them. At first I thought it was kind of funny, but it can seem a bit obsessive at times, especially when he has washed them 5 times already within the last hour!
 
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