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Intrusive thoughts in children

(11 Posts)
Jezabelle Tue 16-Apr-13 19:49:41

Not sure I'm posting in the right place, but here goes! My DD, (just turned 7) and is currently having a lot of trouble with "bad thoughts". This ranges from telling her toys to "shut up" in her head, to being crawled over by hundreds of beetles. Whilst by a river recently she burst into tears and eventually told me that she was thinking of me drowning.

She is otherwise a happy, confident, outgoing girl. She is naturally very thoughtful and emotionally sensitive but does have a resilience in social situations. At the moment these thoughts seem to be plaguing her somewhat. I am hoping it's just a phase but wonder if there's anything I can do for her. I realise most people have intrusive thoughts to some extent, but she seems so young.

So, I have just explain to her that everyone has "bad thoughts" that pop into their heads from time to time. It's natural and normal and nothing to worry about/ feel guilty about. No one can hear her thoughts so she shouldn't worry if she says horrible things in her head to her toys or even people. I have told her it's ok to talk about it and tell me about it and I won't be shocked or cross about what she's thinking. I sometimes try to joke about it to lighten the mood, (not making fun of her though).

What would you do?

sensesworkingovertime Tue 16-Apr-13 20:09:17

Hi Jez she sounds a bit like my DD (11yrs) who I've got a post about at the moment. I can see why it would worry you but I'm not saying there is anything to worry unduly about. You just wonder if it's normal don't you? Probably the naturally very thoughtful and emotionally sensitive bit has a lot to do with it. No doubt she really thinks about things a lot and feels things deeply. I know when my DD did the Great Fire of London at school she was worried about fire for ages. I also remember a work colleague of mine, years ago, having problems with her daughter, I think she was about 9 at the time and was becoming very serious and worried about everything but it was just a phase.

Does she watch any of the news or see papers? I know it can't be avoided but obviously they might affect more sensitive children. Our fave topic at the tea table seems to be Korea at the moment!

And don't forget, at that age, their imagination is really strong, it sounds like you are doing the right things with the chats to me. Just try and gently find out if there is anything else bothering her, at school, or something someone might have said to worry her? Good luck.

Branleuse Tue 16-Apr-13 20:23:21

my ds12 gets this, and i do too

Jezabelle Tue 16-Apr-13 21:11:45

Thanks for replies. Yes Bran, I also have lots of intrusive thoughts myself. Fairly disturbing ones at times! I guess maybe it's just her makeup. Senses, I suppose other than being there for them there is not a lot we can do. We can not have their thoughts for them much as we would like to!

I do regularly say to her that there is nothing that I can do because they are her thoughts and she needs to find a way in her head with coping with them and taking power of her own mind. Sounds a bit harsh in some respects, but I feel that this may empower her in the sense of making her realise that she can take control. I've said that although she can't help thinking those thoughts, she can try to break the cycle so she doesn't dwell on them.

lovelilies Tue 16-Apr-13 21:22:47

this sounds just like my dd also 7, at the beginning of the year I was really quite worried about her mental health, she had 'bad thoughts' and would wind herself up over nothing to the point where she was hyper-ventilating etc. I took her to the gp just for some advice and he was marvelous. Told me I was a brilliant mum and basically told her off for behaving like a young child!shock I totally didn't expect that, he could see it from a different perspective I guess and suggested that (she's VERY bright) she was manipulating me because she saw how upset it made me when she had these 'episodes' and that I needed to toughen up...
4 months later she's like a different child, more care-free, more 'normal' I guess you could call it.
I make sure she can talk to me about anything, and she does open up when anything is troubling her, it IS difficult being 7. Stay strong, be caring, loving, firm and consistent... I hope all this makes sense?!
Good luck to you and dd. you'll be fine smile

lovelilies Tue 16-Apr-13 21:26:19

PS dd told the gp she couldn't help these thoughts (which I thought too) but he told her 'oh yes you can. you are 7, only you can control what happens in your head'
I was a bit shock angry but it worked...

MeanAndMeaslyMiddleAges Tue 16-Apr-13 21:40:44

It's a bit different but when I was pregnant I had prenatal depression and was plagued by near constant intrusive thoughts of the most horrific kind, imagining all the bad things that could happen in my life. My gp told me 'Just because you thought it doesn't make it true.' So simple, yet it helped me so much!

Jezabelle Wed 17-Apr-13 21:56:23

Thanks Lovelilies and Mean. I try not to pander to her too much for that reason. Don't want her to get too much attention for it as it could cause it to escalate. But it's a fine line between showing her that I am there for her and she can talk to me and pandering to it! She went through a big phase when she obsessed about death and talked about how I/she/her friends would die and cried a lot. This was really tough, but she grew out of it. Now I think she has quite a healthy attitude towards death for her age.

Mean, I will say that to her and keep reiterating it. Sometimes the simple things are the ones that make the most difference!

sensesworkingovertime Thu 18-Apr-13 21:15:35

And it could just be her way of dealing with the world at this age. I remembered that my DD around the same age was thinking her room was full of creepy crawlies and stuff for a while. Sometimes it's hard to know when to explain things with a short sentence or sit down and have a chat about it eg the death thing.

I am having a bit of this myself (my thoughts) at the mo, I am putting it down to the recent death of a close relative i.e stress.

Keep listening, chatting, like you say be wary of the too much attention thing. Just remembered this too, my DD used to have a lot of bad dreams and we would deal with them by putting them in the 'dream dustbin' where bad dreams belonged and closing the lid!

Jezabelle Fri 19-Apr-13 22:18:22

Loving the 'dream dustbin' senses! Funnily enough a girl that sits for my DD whilst I am working, (who is only 16) suggested to DD that she take the bad thoughts out of her head and put them in a box and lock them away! DD only told me this recently. The babysitter's mum died when she was just 9 and I wonder if this was advice she was given then. I will definitely remind her of these techniques when she is struggling.

cocolepew Fri 19-Apr-13 22:25:30

My DD has this and was diagnosed with OCD when she was 11, she had a complete breakdown.
She had CBT with a great therapist (only needed 6 sessions).

If you look on Amazon there us a good book called 'why do I worry so much?'.

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