Also part of the UPMC family:
Also part of the UPMC family:

Common Compulsions — Symptoms of Pediatric OCD

UPMC Content 2

Compulsions, or repetitive behaviors, are characteristics of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). They help relieve distress from obsessions.

Following are common compulsions found in children and adolescents with OCD.

Washing, Cleaning, Grooming

  • Need to wash a certain number of times or a certain way to be “clean enough.”
  • Excessive use of soap or cleaning products.
  • Excessive use of toilet paper.
  • Extreme caution to prevent certain objects from touching other objects or people he or she perceives to be contaminated.

Repeating, Redoing

  • Rewriting.
  • Saying a phrase repeatedly until it's “just right.”
  • Rereading.
  • Retracing steps.

Touching, Tapping

  • Touching or tapping corners of objects.
  • Touching objects that others have just touched.


  • Repeatedly checking to make sure:
    • Doors and windows are closed and locked.
    • All the lights are off.
    • The stove is turned off or appliances are unplugged.
    • All necessary items are in his or her book bag.
  • Excessively checking the time.
  • Repeatedly reviewing his or her answers on a test to the point of not finishing or being late.


  • Counting things such as steps, objects, words, or numbers.
  • Repeated mental computations.

Ordering, Arranging

  • Lining up items in a certain way.
  • Organizing school work or objects in his or her room according to a certain pattern.
  • Straightening books or papers until they are “even.”
  • Excessively categorizing music, videos, games, or movies.

Reassurance seeking

  • Repeated questions about whether or not he or she:
    • Understood directions.
    • Will get sick.
    • Is going to be late.
  • Need to know details.
  • Repeated requests for parents or others to feel his or her forehead for signs of a fever.
  • Excessive questioning about whether or not food was prepared correctly.

Confessing, Apologizing

  • Need to tell excessive details.
  • Apologizing for minor mistakes.
  • Often, repeatedly apologizing not only for his or her own actions but for the actions of others.

Saving, Hoarding

  • Inability to throw away items that others view as “junk” or garbage:
    • Broken toys.
    • Used tissues.
    • Useless tools.
    • Old worksheets.
    • Food wrappers.

Mental Rituals

  • Excessive and ritualized prayers.
  • Visualizing a “good“ thought to cancel out a “bad“ thought.
  • Mentally repeating certain words or numbers.

Make an Appointment with the Pediatric OCD Program

To a schedule an evaluation of your child's symptoms to see if they meet the criteria for an OCD diagnosis, or to discuss OCD treatment options, call 412-235-5354.

Find a Doctor

Browse UPMC doctors and medical professionals to find the care that's right for you. Customize your search by specialty, zip code, last name, and more.

Visit the UPMC Find a Doctor website.
Make an Appointment

Find important information on scheduling your appointment or finding a doctor or service that meets your needs.

Request an appointment now.
Find a Location

Browse addresses and contact information for our network of hospitals, specialty care practices, and community health locations.

Find a UPMC location near you.
Pay Your Bill

Learn more about how to pay your UPMC bill. Find resources including payment methods and contact information for assistance.

Pay your bill now.
Find a Career

Advance your career with UPMC. Discover our latest job listings and learn about our values and career pathways.

Find your ideal career at UPMC.