skip to Main Content

Understanding Your Child’s Fear of Intruders: OCD, Separation Anxiety, or Something Else?

Fear of intruders is not an uncommon concern among children, but as parents, it’s essential to discern whether this fear is a normal part of development or if it’s a sign of something more severe. This dive into the topic will not only shed light on what might be causing your child’s fear but also offer guidance on seeking effective therapy. Here’s what you need to know to support your child through their anxiety.

A Normal Phase or a Deeper Issue?

Intruder fears can often be a typical response to the concept of safety and security. For most children, these fears come and go as part of growing up. However, when this fear becomes all-consuming or significantly interferes with daily life, it might be indicative of an underlying disorder such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) or Separation Anxiety Disorder.

OCD – OCD is characterized by recurring, intrusive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to the performance of repetitive behaviors (compulsions). A child with OCD might fear that something terrible will happen to them or a loved one if they don’t perform these rituals. In the case of a fear of intruders, a child with OCD might obsess over the possibility of someone breaking in and respond with rituals like checking doors repeatedly, checking their closet, or under their bed.

Separation Anxiety – Separation Anxiety Disorder is marked by an excessive fear or anxiety concerning separation from those to whom the individual is attached. In younger children, this fear may manifest as a concern for their parents’ well-being when they are apart. A fear of intruders can stem from a child’s anxiety about their parents’ safety when the child is not with them.

When it’s More Than the Boogeyman Under the Bed

Understanding what might be at the root of your child’s fear is crucial because it influences the type of support and treatment they may require.

OCD –If your child’s fear of intruders is part of a broader pattern of obsessive and compulsive behaviors, it’s essential to seek a specialist who can provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with an emphasis on Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP). ERP involves intentionally exposing the patient to the source of their obsession and teaching them healthy ways to cope with their anxiety.

Separation Anxiety –For children struggling with separation anxiety, therapy often involves helping them develop coping strategies and gradually becoming more comfortable with separations. CBT is also effective here, focusing on re-evaluating the thoughts that lead to anxiety and teaching new ways to respond.

Therapy Paths to Explore

When it comes to finding the right treatment for your child, it’s not just about the therapy itself but also about how it’s delivered.

Parent Training – It’s worthwhile for parents to explore training in how to support their child throughout therapy. Parent training programs can help you learn how to reinforce skills and strategies learned in therapy, which is an essential aspect of the treatment process.

Qualified Therapy – Seeking a qualified and trained therapist is vital. Treating OCD and Separation Anxiety effectively often requires a therapist specialized in CBT, and ERP, and experienced in working with children. Its important to note that talk therapy has not been found to be effective for these disorders.

Navigating the Treatment Landscape

Navigating the landscape of mental health treatment for children can be daunting. Take these practical steps:

Do Your Research

Look for reputable practices and organizations that provide guidance on OCD and separation anxiety, such as the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), and IOCDF. These resources often offer transparent information about symptoms, treatment options, and finding qualified professionals. Its important when considering a therapist that you find someone specifically trained in anxiety and OCD, and experienced in working with children.

Be an Advocate for Your Child – As a parent, you know your child best. Don’t be afraid to speak up and advocate for your child’s needs throughout the treatment process. Open communication with your child’s therapist is important, so don’t hesitate to ask questions, express concerns, and provide feedback.

Take Care of Yourself – It’s also essential to take care of yourself as a parent during this process. Supporting a child with mental health challenges can be emotionally taxing, so make sure to prioritize your own self-care.

Stay Consistent – Consistency is key when it comes to treatment for mental health disorders. Make sure to attend therapy sessions regularly and consistently follow through on any homework or exercises assigned by your therapist.

CBT In Orlando – We’re Here To Help

Your child’s well-being is paramount, and addressing their fear of intruders with the right approach early on can make a world of difference. By understanding the potential causes of their anxiety and navigating the therapeutic landscape with care and diligence, you can equip your child with the tools they need to manage their fears and lead a happy, healthy life. At Groundwork, we specialize in CBT for children and adolescents in the Orlando area. Our team of experienced therapists is dedicated to providing evidence-based treatment options for anxiety, OCD, and other mental health concerns. Contact us today to learn more about our services and how we can support your child’s journey towards improved mental health.

Ready To Make A Change?

GroundWork is proud to offer both in-person &
virtual Telehealth appointments.

In-Person Sessions: Central Florida
Virtual Sessions: Florida, Maine, South Carolina, Montana, Vermont



Contact our office via phone, or complete a call back request online with a time thats best for you



We learn about your goals and struggles, and match you with a specialized therapist



Whether in person or virtual, you’ll start meeting with a specialized therapist to make lasting change



CBT and ERP are goal-oriented and solution focused; it doesn’t take long to notice big changes

Request A Call Back

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Contact Us & Location
GroundWork Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
341 N Maitland Ave #330
Maitland, FL 32751


411 Congress St #3292
Portland, ME 04101

Burlington, VT 05043

Virtual & In-Person Appointments

Virtual / Telehealth appointments available for individuals residing in: Florida, Maine, Vermont, South Carolina & Montana

In-person appointments available in Central Florida. By appointment only.

Back To Top