Throughout my years of proving parent-coaching and training on how to become a therapeutic parent, I have developed a concept called “Purposeful Parenting”. Helping parents to achieve a happy home environment by changing their mindset, perspective and expectation; but most of all, gaining awareness of their child with attachment disorders. This is not traditional parenting, it’s intentional parenting that targets the neglect, abuse and abandonment your child with RAD has suffered from.
There are 4 main principles:
1. Parental Boundaries: Due to early childhood trauma, children with attachment issues or attachment disorder normally have control issues. These children feel a need to control their world due to their primary caretakers not meeting their needs in their first 3 years of life. Some methods taught to parents would be, exercising the alpha role by having a calm, loving, direct presence. Also teaching parents to set strong limits, structure, yet loving consequences. Training parent’s to recognize and understand that when you allow your child to manipulate you or negotiate their circumstances, that you enable the child to feel more powerful than the parent, which continues their unhealthy thinking.
Children with attachment disorders need to know their parent can take care of them and that they have the answers. As you show your child that you can handle and understand their special needs, your child will begin to believe in your ability to parent them. This is one of the building blocks needed to form a trusting and safe relationship between you and your child. Your child will be more willing to let go of controlling behaviors and start to enjoy a healthy childhood.
2. Nurturing: Unfortunately, children with attachment problems are unable to experience healthy attachments with their primary caregiver. Giving a child the opportunity to receive what was missed is a vital part of a child’s healing. Nurturing a child on a parent’s terms is hard to accomplish if the child is shut-down or controlling behavior is present. As we set in motion the parental boundaries explained above, we can start to break through the walls of controlling behaviors. We create a calm, firm, loving environment regulating the child so they are not in a defensive mode.
Children with attachment issues are normally very scared of receiving love on a parent’s terms, yet this is one of the primary eliminate missing from their ability to form relationships. Giving your child the missing nurturing from his or her’s past is extremely important for the healing process. Training a parent to read, interpret and empathize with their child’s feelings, sets the stage for a healthy bond between a mother and child.The child learns as control is taken away and nurturing takes place, their addiction to control is not needed. They discover the good safe feeling nurturing provides is worth more than their control.
3. Owning your truth: A child with a troubled past can have difficulties knowing what they are feeling. To help a child get to their core feelings so their needs can be met; parents may need some help. Many children with attachment disorders have secrets they are afraid to share. Many have done things that confirm their beliefs that they are unlovable. The secret’s of their past and present can keep a child from forming healthy attachments.
Secrets can also keep a child in a place of self-loathing and shame. Children need a safe place to disclose and share all secrets. When shared, a child can feel unburden, learn to trust and feel they can be accepted.Some secrets can be hard for parents to hear and accept. Helping parent’s to understand how these secrets can be “normal behavior” given the child’s past is important. Parent’s normally need training to help eliminate shame and unworthiness from their child’s thinking.
4. Positive Interacting: Much of the time children with this disorder end up ruining good times, so experiencing happy occasions with family or one on one can be almost impossible for some families. Helping parent’s not take these episodes personally, is very important. Children with RAD can feel uncomfortable with closeness and happy feelings. Understanding that good times may be compromised, so it is wise to start off with small doses of excitement or joy and have a different expectation. Success can be measured by the increasing length of time the child is able experiencing love and closeness without disrupting it.