Intrusive Thoughts

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted and repetitive thoughts that can be distressing and cause anxiety in children and young people. These thoughts can range from concerns about safety and health to more disturbing thoughts such as violence or self-harm. It is important for parents and caregivers to understand and support children and young people who are experiencing intrusive thoughts.

Here are five top tips for supporting a child or young person with intrusive thoughts:

  1. Encourage the child or young person to talk about their thoughts and feelings. Let them know that it is okay to express their fears and that you are there to listen and support them.
  2. Validate their feelings and help them understand that these thoughts are common and not uncommon. Explain that everyone has intrusive thoughts from time to time, and that they are not alone in their experiences.
  3. Provide comfort and reassurance that the child or young person is safe and will not act on the thoughts. Let them know that the thoughts are not their fault and that they do not have to act on them.
  4. Teach coping strategies such as deep breathing, mindfulness and other relaxation techniques to help the child or young person manage their intrusive thoughts.
  5. Seek professional help if the child or young person is having difficulty managing their intrusive thoughts. A therapist can help them work through the thoughts and provide them with additional coping strategies.

In addition to these tips, there are several things that parents can do to help support a child or young person with intrusive thoughts. One of the most important is to create a safe and supportive environment at home. This can be done by being a good listener and validating their feelings, as well as providing them with comfort and reassurance when needed.

Parents can also help by encouraging the child or young person to participate in activities that they enjoy and that promote positive self-esteem. This can help to distract them from the intrusive thoughts and provide them with a sense of accomplishment and purpose.

Finally, it is important for parents to educate themselves about intrusive thoughts and their impact on children and young people. This will help them to better understand the condition and to provide effective support to their child or young person.

In conclusion, supporting a child or young person who is experiencing intrusive thoughts can be challenging, but it is important to be there for them and provide them with the help they need to manage their thoughts and feelings. By following these tips, parents and caregivers can help children and young people with intrusive thoughts to develop coping strategies and feel more in control of their thoughts.


  1. National Institute of Mental Health (2021). Intrusive Thoughts. Retrieved from
  2. Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2021). Intrusive Thoughts. Retrieved from
  3. Mayo Clinic (2021). Intrusive Thoughts: What You Need to Know. Retrieved from
  4. American Psychological Association (2021). Understanding Intrusive Thoughts. Retrieved from