RadKid.Org: Reactive Attachment Disorder

There's always a storm a'brewing.



Reactive Attachment Disorder: Remove Barriers to Attachment

The child with attachment disorder will work hard to keep you from getting too close. For the good of the child, you need to work even harder to remove any barriers between your child and yourself.

You can?t purchase your child?s love with privileges or things. This will not work. You cannot buy good behavior, attachment, or healing. These things will often stand between your child and yourself, taking the focus off of your relationship and placing it elsewhere. Spending money on the misbehaving child reinforces the negative behavior and impedes healing. Time is a better investment.

Never forget that your priority is your relationship with your child and his progress toward healing. Look at your child?s misbehavior as a learning experience rather than as a personal attack. Never let anger stand in the way of healing.

Television, Computers, Video Games, Radio

Even in the healthy child, these electronic devices often serve only to tune out relationships, emotions, and thought. If you are raising a child with attachment disorder, get rid of these things, lock them up, or greatly reduce your child?s use of them. These distractions should be eliminated until your child is healed and his relationships are solid.

During the first few years of life, while the normal child is learning to focus and to solve problems, the use of such passive activity as television and video games should be limited to two hours a week. The RAD child, who has missed that window of opportunity, has to be given a chance for his brain to develop channels of processing information. The detached child shouldn?t be permitted to watch television for six months to a year, so that healing has a chance to occur.

If your family structure is such that it is impossible to eliminate television from your child?s life, at least limit the amount of time that he sits in front of it and be particularly careful of the types of programming he watches. Cartoons, with their rapid flicker rates, can be particularly harmful.

Rather than letting your child loose on electronic devices, try Legos, Constructs, Lincoln Logs, or other problem solving toys.

Furniture and Other Household Stuff

Children with reactive attachment disorder often wreck things. While you are working on their behavior, you might want to put the expensive stuff somewhere safe, replacing it with less expensive or secondhand furniture, particularly in the child?s room. In most cases, it?s best for the RAD child not to have a lot of clutter in his room, anyhow. The child should be expected to work off the price of anything that he might vandalize or destroy, but don?t permit your battle to save your furniture to come in the way of your relationship with your child.

Friends and Family Acquaintances

Your child?s relationship with his friends can be a formidable barrier, particularly if he has allowed to go places with them or talk on the phone. The RAD child is likely to be charming, and will probably choose friends who are emotionally undemanding. His ability to talk to them about nothing will reinforce his belief that you are too demanding of him.

For the older adolescent and teen, flirting is also a problem. Our nephew, who is twelve, will flirt with every girl he sees, and he is cute and charming enough that many of them will respond in ways that widen the emotional gap at home.

Don?t grant unearned privileges to the RAD kid, and limit the time he spends on the telephone or alone with friends. It is better to invite his friends to your house, where they can be monitored, than to permit him to go elsewhere. Don?t allow your RAD child to separate from the family on outings, such as to a restaurant, the movies, or church.


Rather than encouraging your child to spend much time playing games by himself, have games around that can be played by two or more members of the family. Time spent playing participatory games with your child is time well spent. Monopoly and cribbage are popular games around our house, but there are others that will work just as well. You might want to make sure that your child truly participates in the game. At first, our nephew would play almost as if he were playing alone, paying very little attention to anything other than his own moves, except to make sure that we weren?t cheating. Conversation and the sharing of strategies can be a useful tool.

* Much of the above information was adapted from a lecture by Deborah Hage.


If your browser does not support our flash navigation, click the orange site map image on the top of the page.


Last Modified on: Saturday, August 08, 2009



RadKid.Org Blog | RadKid.Org Directory | RadKid.Org AT Wiki

We subscribe to the HONcode principles of the HON Foundation. Click to verify. 


Health Links select site Rated with SafeSurf Labeled with ICRA