“There are many days where you are just going to hate the fact that your sibling has OCD. You’re not going to hate them, you’re going to hate the OCD. You always will. The days will come, the days may stay a while, but the days will go. Just remember that. For the sufferer, they hate to see you go through what you are going through and hate the fact that their OCD has made your life more difficult. So, let them know that yes even though you struggle with this almost as much as they do, that you are there for them. At the end of the day, you will always be there for them.” – Laura McIngvale-Brown 

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is a painful and debilitating mental illness that is painful not only for the sufferer but for the entire family. Seeing your sibling or child engage in countless compulsions, avoid you because you may be contaminated, or engage in reassurance seeking day after day from you is not easy. A wave of emotions can take over when you have a sibling or child with OCD (i.e. sadness, frustration, exhaustion, anger, guilt) but this page is to help you know that you are not alone on your own journey as a support system for a loved one with OCD.

This page will guide you through helpful tips on how to support your sibling or your child without giving into their OCD. It will help you set and keep boundaries that are reasonable not only for you but for your sibling or child as well while also discussing the importance of self-care. You can be a huge part in helping them to take control over their OCD and we hope these tools will guide you on how to do just that!

 

Young Siblings:

If your brother or sister is struggling with OCD, life is of course hard for them, but it can be hard for you, too. Mom and Dad may need to spend extra time bringing your sibling to appointments and tending to their needs while you have to be a little more independent. Your sibling may rely on you for a lot of things or avoid you due to certain OCD fears. This can be a really challenging spot to be in, but it is important to know that you are not alone and that it doesn’t have to be this way forever! It is important to make sure that you are taking time to express to your family how you are feeling if you are struggling to deal with the OCD as a sibling. Some ways you can do that are by speaking up to your parents if you feel left out, tell them that you want to go see a friend, or ask for some time with one of your parents to just go do something with the two of you. Doing things like these are allowing you to have some self-care. When we put self-care aside, our frustration builds and we can become exhausted or burnt out. This page will help you navigate how to be the best younger or older brother/ sister you can be for your sibling with OCD while also enjoying your life and avoiding frustration. Helping your sibling take control over their OCD in a healthy manor can bring you closer together while giving your sibling and yourself a life you both deserve to live!

 

Adult Siblings:

You have your own life to tend to nowadays. Having a sibling with OCD and having to manage a job, family, school, etc. is even more challenging. This page will help you navigate through how to balance all of these factors while best attending to your siblings needs in a helpful and useful way. The key is to be a support system for them without having to have them rely on you for reassurance or assistance with OCD compulsions. This can be tricky because nobody wants to see their sibling suffer, but these tips will help them get one step closer to living the life they deserve to live long time. Finally, make sure you are also tending to your own needs as well. Self-care is a crucial part in this process of helping your sibling take control over their OCD. If you don’t have time for yourself, frustration will build, and you may get burnt out. Take an hour to do something you enough like get a pedicure, massage, take a bubble bath or have a meal with a friend. You should look at self-care as a key asset to helping your sibling take control over their OCD!

 

Parents:

Being a parent of a child with OCD is difficult for many reasons. Not only do you have to see your child suffer but you have to deal with the dynamics of everyone’s lives that the OCD affects. Your child may find a sibling contaminated, or they may be struggling with school activities due to their OCD. These are all areas that you have to be there to navigate through and unfortunately it is not easy. An important piece of this OCD journey for you has a parent, is to check in with each family member. Often the attention only gets drawn to the sufferer, which does make sense as they are the ones struggling the most. However, checking in with siblings to see how they are being affected is equally important. Your child with OCD may have fears or compulsions that are greatly affecting their sibling. So, it is important to catch that and come up with creative ways to keep everyone in the family feeling cared for and supported. Finally, self-care is a crucial piece in this family dynamic puzzle. If you are spending all of your time catering to the family, but have no time for yourself, you are subject to burnout and exhaustion. Try to give yourself credit and remember that you are doing the best you can. You cannot spend time caring for others if you don’t first make sure you are caring for yourself. Click here for more resources for parents and caregivers.

 

Additional Resources:

For Caregivers           Children with OCD           More Sibling Resources           OCD Resources 

 

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Siblings Feedback

We want to hear from you. Submit a question to an OCD expert, share helpful tips, or give us feedback on what additional information you would like to see on this page!

 

Videos: For Siblings

Choose a title below to view a video for more information on various OCD topics.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder should be explained to siblings using the same language. Dr. Wagner gives examples of ways to explain to young and older siblings.

Dr. Wagner talks about developing a plan and strategy to help siblings better understand OCD and how doing rituals makes OCD worse.

Dr. Wagner explains the nature of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. She talks about how OCD is inconsistent and the person suffering from OCD is not doing it on purpose.

Dr. Wagner talks about how OCD is not anyone's fault and it is not your job to fix it. Siblings can feel overwhelmed to be the "good kid" and not tell parents about their feelings. Parents need to check-in with each member of the family.

Dr. Wagner talks about how OCD can take over the family and how siblings can be overlooked. She encourages families to work together and make it a point to schedule alone time with each child. Self-care is important for everyone in the family.

Dr. Wagner explains how to best support their siblings with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. She talks about how siblings should have their own time and alone time with their parents. Self-care is important for every family member.

Laura McIngvale-Brown gives tips on how to Be A Sibling. She talks about how to stay positive and let them know that you are there for them.

Chris Baier shares some tips for parents on how to talk to siblings​ and how to be aware of everyone's mental health.

Charlotte Baier talks about first understand Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder at a young age and how she started to get involved with treatment.

Learn how to best support your sibling and not to purposely trigger them.

Charlotte Baier talks about her personal experience growing up with a sibling with OCD. Getting involved in ERP (exposure with response prevention) treatment can help you not feel alone and helps show your sibling with OCD support.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder can affect sibling relationships. Charlotte Baier shares one experience that took some rebuilding. She shares about how her involvement with EPR has helped their relationship.