A Greater Understanding

Many families live with children who have attachment disorder. Their problems can range from mild to extreme. On the mild end, families may experience mere irritation with their child. On the extreme end, the child may be running the family, controlling everyone, and making life unbearable for all. These parents have tried traditional parenting, to no avail. Nothing seems to work with this child. They may begin to lose hope that their child will ever be able to form a healthy relationship.

Parents face many obstacles when they become mom and dad to a child with reactive attachment disorder (RAD). The child may lack cause-and-effect thinking, lie and steal with no regard or understanding of consequences. The discipline that would correct a healthy child’s behaviors doesn’t have the same effect on a child without a healthy attachment. Many unattached children have behaviors that lead to diagnoses of ADD/ADHD, and many are misdiagnosed with bipolar, OCD, oppositional defiance and other behavior disorders.

These children may have abnormal eating habits. Some children aim to dominate social situations with nonsense questions and chatter, always wanting to be the center of attention, while others withdraw and void contact with others. Some may show indiscriminate affection toward strangers and behave in a superficially charming manner, while in their own homes creating turmoil, havoc, and triangulation. They might avoid eye or physical contact on the parents’ terms, but can be controlling and clingy on their own terms. They can be destructive to property and sometimes harm pets, siblings, or themselves.

For new parents expecting a “normal” or slightly delayed child, these problems can be overwhelming. The difficulties that arise can devastate relations among parents, biological children, extended family members, or friends. Outsiders may not understand that the primary caregiver, usually the mother, becomes the prime target of this children’s attempts to control and manipulate. Most people do not pick up on the tactics the child is using to push the adopted mother away. There are specific reasons as to why the mother becomes the target of the child’s abuse and anger.

This is due to the biological mother or first mother abandoning, abusing, neglecting, or simply not being emotional available during the child’s first 3 years life. These are the years when we naturally form the first attachment with our mother’s but when their first experience with a mother has lead to abandonment, neglect or abuse the child’s fear and rage are taken out on the new mom making her the primary outlet for they’re testing and abuse.

There are many cases when the biologic mother may not have been emotional available during the crucial time of bonding with their infant /child. Reasons could be a bad divorce or abusive marriage and mother deployed or a child that has been hospitalized during this crucial time of development. There are many different reasons, however, if the bonding didn’t take place, the mother can be facing a lot of repair work ahead.

The mother can experience, controlling behaviors, a child always in survivor mode, a child who is uncomfortable sharing closeness along with a slew of other symptoms. These parents have an enormous job of therapeutic parenting ahead of them.

These mother’s or primary caregivers are typically very misunderstood. Even those closest to her, which may include her husband, parents, family member and friends can view her as the problem. This child can also pour on the charm to those who they can get sympathy from and ones who do not really know their true behaviors. A child with Rad can pit husband and wife up against each other and can have extended family, friends and teachers seeing their parent as the problem as they play the victim.

Others may see the mother as being unfair and unloving when she tries to put limits on the child. Therapists who don’t understand attachment disorder may even advise that the child would heal if only the mother would love them more.

On the contrary, all the love that she has given to her child has not been received, this is due to walls the child has needed to put up for protection.

Receiving love is foreign to a child with RAD; they have not yet learned how to experience it. Children with attachment issues can view an intimate relationship as threatening, especially with their new primary caretaker. It is important to understand that a child’s brain chemistry can be dramatically altered when their needs are not met during the first 3 years of life. Their sad and scared feelings get suppressed and not visited by the child anymore.

An internal rage can develop when a child/infant is in a state of prolonged anxiety and stress which does not get resolved and cared for.

Taking a child back and giving them what they did not receive in their first 3 years of life is vital for their healing process. We need to build trusting relationships with our children that have suffered early childhood trauma.

Nurturing touch, making eye contact and tending to their needs is extremely important.

Helping them learn to rely and depend on us instead of depending on themselves can help them trust in our ability to parent them.

There is much to learn when becoming a therapeutic parent to your child but the results can be wonderful.

There is such a special feeling when your child begins to love for the first time or when they began to grow a conscience and it is something to see them take responsibility for actions.

These are some awesome milestones that they will have you to thank for later in life!