Some moms take their concern about their children to an obsessive level.

Obsessive Behavior in Mothers

by Tiffany Raiford

Moms have an overwhelming desire to keep their kids safe and healthy. After all, you did spend nine months sacrificing after-work drinks with friends, extreme sports and the ability to go more than 10 minutes without using the restroom. It’s only natural that you’d want to protect the great gift you gave birth to after all that hard work. However, some moms take it too far and begin to exhibit obsessive behaviors, which are often detrimental to a child.

Postpartum Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

The technical term for obsessive behavior in mothers is called postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder. According to a psychology professor at the University of Miami, Kiara Timpano, approximately one in every 100 adults suffers from some form of obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD as it is commonly known. Moms who suffered from a form of OCD prior to having children are more likely to exhibit obsessive behaviors than moms who did not. This type of obsessive behavior often begins after you give birth and can last throughout the toddler years if left untreated.

Effects of Obsessive Behavior in Mothers

Normal thoughts, such as a momentary fear that your toddler might fall down and drown in the bathtub while you turn around to grab a towel are perfectly normal in mothers. However, a mother with OCD will replay that vision in her head so many times that she becomes obsessed with it and she begins to fear that this will happen to her child. If you have thoughts like this and become obsessed with them, the natural effect of your thinking is that you have to do whatever it takes to prevent this from occurring. You might then stop giving your toddler a bath in the tub and only wipe him down with a sponge during bath time for fear of drowning him.

Dangers of Obsessive Behavior in Mothers

The dangers of this type of behavior in mothers can be severe. If you are an obsessive mother terrified of your toddler getting sick, you might then decide you can prevent illness by constantly washing your toddler. As a result of being constantly scrubbed for hours on end to kill germs, your toddler will develop sores and blisters. Another example of the dangers of obsessive behavior in mothers includes neglect. If you are concerned that your toddler will get sick because of germs in your house, you may spend hours upon hours cleaning your home, which can cause you to neglect your toddler.

Treatment of Obsessive Behavior in Mothers

Ideally, you sought treatment for your obsessive behavior when your toddler was still a newborn and you first noticed the symptoms. However, not all moms realize they have a problem until their children are toddlers, which means you have to seek treatment now. This type of OCD is not easy to treat, but doctors can help you deal with your obsessive motherly behavior with the help of antidepressants and/or cognitive behavioral therapy. This type of therapy teaches you to understand your obsessive thoughts and what causes them, to recognize the triggers of your obsessive thoughts and to change those thoughts when they strike.

About the Author

Tiffany Raiford has several years of experience writing freelance. Her writing focuses primarily on articles relating to parenting, pregnancy and travel. Raiford is a graduate of Saint Petersburg College in Florida.

Photo Credits

  • D. Anschutz/Digital Vision/Getty Images