News Karnataka
Sunday, February 05 2023
Know Your Child

Hoarding disorder and its management among children

Photo Credit : Pixabay

It is normal for children to collect things or to have a messy room. But most kids don’t get upset if someone cleans up their stuff or makes them throw away things like old pizza boxes. If your child is extremely attached to objects that seem worthless and is very upset by even the idea of throwing them away, it may be a sign of hoarding.

Many people collect things as a hobby or for sentimental reasons -from stamps to their kids’ teeth, but people with hoarding disorder accumulate possessions because it is distressing for them to discard them.

Kids who hoard can develop extreme anxiety about losing their possessions. They may even throw tantrums or become violent if their parents try to clean up or get rid of things. One common reason that kids hoard is that they believe objects have feelings and will become lonely or sad if they get cleaned up or thrown away. Kids might also get attached to things that are connected to good memories, like a candy wrapper because it was gifted by friends. They feel that throwing away the object would mean throwing away the memory too.

Collecting v/s Hoarding

Children who collect things like stuffed animals, stickers, toy cars, dolls, action figures or cards show pride in their collections. They like to share them with others and talk about them. Children who hoard, on the other hand, do not organise their possessions and they often feel embarrassed or uncomfortable letting others see or touch their things. And kids who are hoarders often don’t understand why they are doing it.

What is the treatment for hoarding disorder?

Usually, in therapeutic settings, exposure with the response is the prevention. These exposures help weaken the child’s belief that he/she can’t live without these things. A reward system gives kids points towards something valuable to them including an activity they particularly enjoy. It will be good if they can discard a certain number of things a day.

Understanding what causes hoarding in children can help reduce the negative effects of the behaviour and redirect the course of their future.

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Ramya E.

The author is a counselor and lifeskills trainer who has trained over 2000 students. She holds an M.Sc. in Psychology.

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