Is this an emerging problem or...

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by tiredmommy, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    am I just paranoid, lol?

    Duckie has been doing remarkably well where her behavior is concerned lately, though she's been a little difficult with her current head/chest cold. Understandable. There is something new going on but I'm not sure if it's a problem or not, I haven't posted about it before now because I haven't wanted to look for problems, Know what I mean??

    She's been washing her hands. Not too much or inappropriately, just every single time she should. And with no prompting. After using the potty. Before preparing food or eating. When she comes in from playing outside, school, activities and play dates. Not excessively that I can tell, but I don't think it's exactly normal for a seven year old to do this.

    It started up after she started the asthma medications in October. She apparently doesn't want to get sick from her "friends that never wash their friends".

    Does any one have any insight about when hand washing becomes a problem?
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    My difficult child started this last Spring. He started counting as he washed his hands and I started to worry if this was something to be concerned over. I then found out that he just went through a health class where they were told that when you wash your hands, you should wash for atleast 10 - 20 seconds. So, he was counting the seconds. Relief! :)

    If she is washing appropriately, I don't think there is a problem. It is when she starts showing a ritual and redoing if something interrupts. I think you will know when it doesn't feel appropriate. When she starts washing her hands everytime she touches something - in other words she is at a sink more than she is anywhere else.

    Weird how we hope for a behavior such as handwashing and then when it happens, we wonder if it is right?
  3. Jena

    Jena New Member

    I agree as well with Andy, my exdh had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) very bad. Handwashing wasn't just washing, it was an entire ritual that he did and he'd scrub his hands so badly he'd almost break skin. It was horrible.

    If it were me i'd probably just monitor it and see if it worsens or just stops as suddenly as it began. Sometimes we are lucky and those things, do happen lol. :)
  4. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Personally, I wouldn't worry about it based on just what you've seen. I would keep a discreet eye out for any other signs of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), though. But not too much.

    I'm basing that on difficult child's tendency to go on cleaning sprees and what 2 psychiatrists told me. They both, individually and separately said that "difficult child does not yet go to the extreme of being Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and it isn't a dangerous or otherwise activity to be wooried about, so quit complaining- and they joked about whether or not I really wanted to worry if he was cleaning the house".

    Still, I realize that most boys difficult child's age are not going on cleaning sprees. But, I also decided that the psychiatrists have a point!!
  5. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I would say that while it's a bit difficult child-ish for a 7yo to be THAT aware or concerned about stuff like this, it's certainly not Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-ish... yet. She may have a tendency to be compulsive about some stuff because of anxiety. A lot of people are like that. It's only a problem when it starts to interfere with normal, everyday Life.

    Wish I could get my older boys to wash so conscientiously!
  6. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    I think there will be clear signs that it is a problem. My difficult child 2, who does have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), was recently taking unprompted showers every day. Not something to be concerned about and even a good thing since we used to have trouble getting her to do it. I knew it was Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), however, because she had to do it after she had been outside. If she didn't get to do it right away after being outside, she would fall apart. We never really addressed it because most of the time, it wasn't a problem if she took a shower when she came inside.
  7. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Keep an eye on it. Maybe congratulate her on always remembering to wash her hands but also make it clear that as my mother said, "we all got to eat our peck of dirt before we die."

    Current thinking (maybe share this with her) is that we shouldn't live in too sanitised a world because if we do, we fail to allow our immune system to keep getting its regular microdoses of immune stimulants which are enough to stop it from going overboard and triggering things like asthma.

    In other words, we NEED our sub-pathogenic doses of bacteria, our immune system needs to be getting gently triggered at regular intervals, to stop it from going into massive overdrive.

    To continue to be safe, we need to be sensible. Hand-washing is good, using antibacterial soap etc is bad (unless you are cleaning a hospital operating theatre, of course). If you want to be safe at home then there are other, safer, things you can do. having those multi-coloured chopping boards for different purposes and using them accordingly is good; relying again on antibacterial wipes etc to compensate for poor kitchen hygiene is bad.

    Something we did partly for the sake of avoiding arguments of "That's my drink you just finished" was we had plastic cups (ie unbreakable) for each child, in a colour we chose for each one. easy child was red, difficult child 1 was blue (first girl, first boy). easy child 2/difficult child 2 was yellow (because it went well with her red hair and was the only remaining primary colour) and then when difficult child 3 arrived, we'd run out of primary colours so we hunted around and decided on green. it quickly became second nature and we found the fringe benefit of it was, we didn't catch the usual bugs off each other. From what we've worked out, the biggest cause of cross-infection in the family is kids sharing cups with parents. We use the dishwasher efficiently, it sterilises things moderately well. But instead of getting a glass out of the cupboard, each kid would get THEIR cup from the sink and simply refill it. It saved a lot on wash-up; one cup did all day and then got hand-washed that night or thrown in the dishwasher at the end of the day. Or not - sometimes we didn't get around to it. But it didn't matter, because nobody else used that cup.

    The chopping board rule - we don't have the multicoloured ones but have our own system. We slice bread and chop vegetables, fruit etc on a plastic chopping board. If I have to cut up raw meat, I will use our smaller plastic chopping board but it then goes straight into the dishwasher. We also do our utmost to avoid raw chicken especially, from coming into contact with the kitchen bench. I'll use the sink (stainless steel) to hold a bag of raw meat because once it's finished with and the sink empty, I can always rinse it with a splash from the kettle just after it's boiled.

    Some people take big risks - I remember watching my sister defrost a chicken in a sink full of warm water. NOT a good idea, parts of it will warm up just enough to incubate bugs to big population densities. The water can also force these bugs into crevices in both the chook and anywhere else the water splashes, carrying lots of happy little salmonella bugs with it.

    What I'm saying - there is a fine line between being safe and sensible, and being obsessive and unhealthy. Understanding why is a big start.

    I've been re-reading the James Herriot "All Creatures Great and Small" books about a vet in Yorkshire. in some of them he describes the "knacker man" whose job involved carting off the dead animals (or ones destined to be slaughtered). Backc at the man's yard he would butcher the healthy meat but most of what went to him was too far gone for huiman consumption, so it would get boiled down to make pig meal, the bones ground for fertiliser etc. Nothing got wasted. A lot of these dead animals had died of disease or were loaded with germs and/or parasites, but the knacker man's little kids played happily in the piles of decaying dead animals and the author noted that these were the healthiest kids in town. Scientists are now explaining why this is so, but that was not known at the time the books were written.

    I grew up in a backyard farm. I played with a range of animals and also did chores around them as well. We put their manure on the garden and ate the produce. We also were very healthy. We didn't use antibacterials, although we did use a lot of boiling water to clean up the milking things and anything we used with raw meat (especially chicken).

    Duckie is enough of a scientist to understand current knowledge of the immune system. Her concern about her own allergies could be triggering some early Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) issues. Knowledge may be the way around this for her. It could also be a control issue - if she can keep the nastiest allergens out of her environment, she feels safer.

    It only becomes a problem when it begins to interfere with your life.

  8. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    TM, can you list the asthma medications she's currently taking?

    Did anyone like her doctor ever say she should try not to get sick because it could make her asthma worse?
  9. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Thanks everyone. :) It wouldn't worry me except for two things:

    1. She doesn't tend to do much of anything without at least a reminder from me. Or so it seems anyway.
    2. My gut has seldom been wrong where Duckie is concerned.

    SW- Her current medications are: Zyrtec syrup one half teaspoon twice a day, Nasonex once a day, 110mg Asmanex once a day (currently taking 220 mg due to a head/chest cold per dr orders).
    Her allergist advised that she's at risk for her asthma worsening during colds. Duckie was in the room at the time.
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    TM: For what it's worth, and I'm sure this differs from child to child- as wonderful as zyrtec worked on my son's allergies (preventive wheezing), I have it on the top 3 list of triggers for extreme symptommatic behavior.
  11. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    What behaviors have you seen? Duckie's been taking Zyrtec for over a year now...
  12. witzend

    witzend Well-Known Member

    Are her hands getting dry, or cracked? M went through something similar at this age. It wasn't a real problem until we told the therapist about it. The therapist talked to M and explained to him that this could be a sign of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) so it's really important to pay attention to it.:surprise: Then she told us, in front of M, that if he got to the point where his hands got dry and cracked, we should really be worried. :mad:

    So, M started slathering his hands up with soap and not rinsing them. When that didn't make them dry and cracked enough, he started licking them in an effort to make them bleed. I guess what I'm saying is to be really careful to not interject yourself into whatever it is that Duckie is up to. Maybe they taught something about germs and colds at school and she's just washing her hands?
  13. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My difficult child's behaviors might not apply to anyone else- it's just that he was not a difficult child before reaching 11yo, or very close to that. He did have asthmatic wheezing as an infant until almost 5yo, however. Albuterol and steroids that were used to treat it brought out different behavior in him, even as an infant. Then, after that time period, he was allowed to use antihistamines to treat allergies and prevent wheezing, but I always noticed that they made him hyper and anxious, whereas I guess in some people, it makes them drowsy.

    Anyway, I can't swear that it isn't just coincidence, but my difficult child's "difficult child behavior" is primarily in late winter/early spring and secondarily in the fall. These are the same period that he used to have wheezing and the same periods that now he suffers allergies- and then I started paying attention to what I was using to treat the allergies.

    In the fall, my son is primarily depressive and irritable and can get disruptive if that is not sympathized. In late winter/early spring, it is like he loses it - it appears to be mania. But, in these times is when he seems to exhibbit signs of anxiety and somewhat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) behavior also.

    psychiatrist said allergy medications cannot cause this- the pediatrician says it can.
  14. flutterbee

    flutterbee Guest

    I haven't read all of the responses (skimmed though...attention span of a gnat tonight).

    I wash my hands a lot. I started probably about Duckie's age. I have never counted or anything like that. I just can't stand for my hands to feel the least bit sticky or dirty. I've never ever liked that feeling. After learning about Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) issues, I think for me that's what it is. I tend to have dry skin, too, and have a hard time with lotions because they feel too greasy. When I use them, I use very little and wipe the excess off right away. For a few winters, my hands would crack open and I would put eucerin (sp?) on my hands at night and I could hardly stand it. Then I found that my moisturizer for sensitive skin worked better and it's not greasy. Rambling again....sorry.

    She's been sick a lot. Is it possible that she's made the connection between washing her hands and helping to keep from getting sick? I think with flu season the teachers probably bring it up. Maybe she's just more cognizant of it since she seems to get sick more easy and she's sick of getting sick.

    Or maybe she's just weird like me and can't stand for her hands to feel the least bit sticky or dirty or anything.

    I have to go wash my hands now....
  15. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Two theories (and believe me, that's all they are):

    First, young children, especially when they are sensitive and anxious, can take a small kernel of an idea they hear and expand it until it is controlling their world (often in an attempt to seek control). I suspect Duckie heard the allergist say her asthma could be worse when she has a cold and she is finding a way to do her part to control that (washing her hands to get rid of cold germs). She may very well be anxious about her new asthma diagnosis. While I wouldn't call attention at all to the handwashing -- either positive or negative -- I might do some asthma education to allay her fears. With the medications available today, kids with asthma lead entirely normal lives. Duckie needs to hear that message.

    Second, Asmanex contains micro doses of a steroid, and steroids are known to affect emotions. Your docs would probably deny this is a possibility, but in a child with a sensitive system I wonder if the steroid is stirring up her anxiety and making her OCDish (not full-blown Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) yet). When my daughter A was prescribed Paxil for depression, one of the first signs that made me think it was the wrong medication for her was that she was suddenly driven to clean up her room. The docs all pooh-poohed my warnings -- they said she was less depressed so she felt well enough to clean up her room -- but I knew in my gut that something was wrong because she had never cleaned her room before she became depressed. A few months later her "mission mode" had tipped over into full-blown raging, thanks to the Paxil (I am not saying this will happen with Duckie, but I am saying to trust your mommy gut).

    At this point, I would not make Duckie self-conscious about the handwashing in any way, but I would keep an eye on things. If the handwashing becomes more frequent or ritualistic, I would definitely recommend a call to Duckie's doctors.
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2008
  16. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Thanks ladies... at least I don't feel nuts for thinking there's a potential problem brewing. I'll watch....
  17. Jena

    Jena New Member

    ok i was just going to say that........that maybe her overhearing the dr. saying the asthma could potentially get worse set her off a little and made her nervous, rightfully so and she reverted to the washing of her hands to stop that from happening.

    aw, maybe it's her way of trying to take control of it.

    my difficult child doesn't do that when she gets set off, she does another ocdish thing, she collects garbage and odd things. you maybe right though, as time progresses and different things occur it'll be something to watch for.