The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH 2009) has produced a 15-point scale that defines various levels of the continuum of normal worrying to clinical obsession or compulsiveness. At the extreme, a score of 13 to 15, the symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) require the individual to be closely supervised while eating, sleeping, or even making minor decisions.
At the other end of the scale, 1-3, the individual spends little or no time in excessive thought or behavior that is ritualistic or compulsive, and there is almost no interference in Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). ADLs include things like the ability to pay attention, groom oneself, engage in meaning social interactions with others, and perform those necessary biological functions related to eating and eliminating in a way that does not interfere with one’s normal emotional functioning. In the case of children, this would include going to school, studying, making and keep friends, playing with their friends, and engaging in meaningful recreational or physical activity during their spare time.
Thomas Szasz wrote a book in 1966 called The Myth of Mental Illness. The author basically argued that there was no such thing as mental illness, and that scientists and doctors had attempted to lay the template of the so-called medical model over what he preferred to term as “problems in living.”
If your child is so concerned with making A’s that their worry makes them ineffective at studying, causing them to make C’s when they are capable of making A’s, then this could be termed such a problem in living.
My preference is to use the term problem in learning. That is, the child is attempting to do the right thing, i.e., study hard and make a good grade, but they have not learned how to moderate or regulate their studying behavior in such as fashion as to achieve the goal of learning well and making an A.
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