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toilet paper rolls
hoarding disorder
material possessions
hoarding behavior
dear life
little voice
paper towel
adulthood
Hoarding In Children: In Many, Where It All Begins
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For many adult hoarders, hoarding in children is where is all begins. Parents may see their child saving things and think nothing of it. Or unwittingly contribute to it. So little Suzy likes dolls or tea sets, so what? She will have a nice collection to be proud of later. But when later comes, full grown Suzy may equate her collection to affection. Or worse, start to collect numerous other items or objects seeking an emotional tie. The attraction of material possessions in Suzy’s life now holds a more significant meaning than her parents’ well-meaning intentions.

Not that parents shouldn't promote healthy, wholesome, reasonable collections (yes, even bugs), but they should be aware of signs that have that little voice in your head telling you Little Suzy has a problem. She has started collecting empty paper towel and toilet paper rolls and they're everywhere!

Childhood collections, generally speaking, are healthy. Children who collect coins, sports cards, or even insects are inquisitive and curious as they explore the world around, defining their role in it. The collections of a child hoarder may not be as wholesome, rational, or reasonable, and the amount of items collected will get out of control.

With children, obsessive-compulsive impulses become apparent shortly after hoarding behavior begins. And the hoarding behavior can begin at any time. Toddlers as young as three years old have been found to have OCD hoarding disorder. My research showed the average onset of hoarding behaviors is 10.5 to 13 years of age. Children who hoard more often than not carry the disorder into adulthood.

Children may form extreme attachments to inanimate objects and an obsessive need to hold on to them tightly. They may personify the object as well. Thinking back to my own childhood, I’m sure my mother thought I was crazy for hanging onto some of my stuffed animals for dear life. I was heartsick when she insisted on throwing them out. Was I a hoarder? I know I was at the very least ADHD which research tells me is a symptom of OCD. Maybe my mother prevented me from becoming a hoarder when she won the battles of the stuffed animals. Not the best way to avoid hoarding, but possibly effective on me.

As difficult as it is for an adult hoarder to be aware that they have a problem, it is even more difficult for children who hoard. Children are still learning to understand themselves, the people around them, and their environment. Still discovering and defining their role in their environment and society.

Hoarding food is seen in children who do not trust the adults around them with their safety and security. There are many hungry children in our society and all too many bounced around and separated from parents and siblings in foster care and adoption programs. Common among them is a time in their lives when they were deprived of food for any number of reasons.How hard do you think it is for a child to express his or her needs to grownups they barely know?

The child who hoards food feels insecure in their environment and has likely gone hungry in the past for longer periods of time than is reasonably acceptable. Children who hoard food have no reason to trust the adults in their lives and all too many of them think the adults do not care enough about them to provide them the food they need on a regular basis or whenever they feel hungry. Longevity in one home and gaining the child’s trust may help the child feel secure enough to react to food in a healthier way.

I must note, I researched this article and learned much of it from trusted online sources. Some of my own impressions are also expressed in this article and I am not, in any way, an authority on the topic of children and hoarding. I have no experience with children who hoard but much experience, as a professional organizer, with adults who do.


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