Monday, February 23, 2015

Parenting A Child With RAD

Why is Reactive Attachment Disorder so difficult for others to comprehend? I have been mulling over that question with another mom this past week and haven't come up with any good answers other than the usual: 
RAD is counter intuitive to healthy human reasoning 
When a person has a severe psychiatric problem, the general public is not the one who is responsible for the welfare and treatment of the seriously mentally ill. A child with RAD usually lives at home, with parents who often have had little or no trauma training so they are left to sink or swim. Through trial and error the parents learn coping methods and if they search long enough they might find a good attachment therapist. 

However, the secondary damage to the family has already been done and how do you begin explaining the trauma a child who is only a fraction of your size can cause in a family? The other children in the family pick up on the RAD child's behaviors and mimic them. Our children are experts at "playing dumb" as we call it. Braden started it as a way to get under my skin. He would pretend he didn't know how to do something like opening his bedroom door. He made such a commotion about it that after a bit I would begin to wonder if perhaps he didn't know how to open doors. Never mind that he had opened the same door multiple times through out the day. I would tell him he can either open the door and get his toys or he is welcome to find something else to do. When he "played dumb" he was looking for a fight. When I refused to engage in the fight he would rage for hours. If I opened the door for him he would pretend he couldn't find the toy he was looking for. If I handed him the toy he wanted he would destroy something...he didn't want the toy he wanted a fight. He was very creative at finding ways to draw me into his turmoil so I had to be constantly on guard . Very soon I found myself on high alert, which naturally heightened his anxiety. Children with RAD are like newborn baby's, they cannot lower their stress levels themselves, they rely on mom's calmness to help them calm down. Just like a baby, they are highly tuned to mom's stress levels. In spite of knowing all of this, I often found myself getting up tight inside, even though I may have appeared calm outwardly. It was a constant battle to keep myself calm both inside and out. 

Children with RAD feel most comfortable when their surroundings are chaotic because that is what they were accustomed to early in life. When they can get everyone around them riled up, the child calms down. If everyone is calm and enjoying themselves the RAD child feels ill at ease and does whatever necessary to stir up chaos.

When parents are misunderstood they begin to question their own integrity and parenting ability. These parents are so desperate for answers they are willing to analyze their parenting technique's even if it means totally revamping their methods for the umpteenth time. 

Parents share tips that worked for their emotionally healthy  family and when those same things not only don't work for your child but cause him to react in negative ways, they assume your parenting is the problem. Sometimes I think if only the problem was our parenting, then we could change what we are doing! 

Then there is the age old, "God will supply all of your needs." Insinuating that the parent hasn't been relying on God and if they would only do so God would help them. The truth is God has helped us, if it weren't for God and our faith in Him I have no doubt that our story would be very different than what it is today. See, God does supply all of our needs but he doesn't always supply those needs in the way we wish he would. God has faithfully given peace, wisdom and patience when those things were hard to find. He hasn't healed our children like we might desire but he has used their disabilities to make Dean and I stronger people. 


                         Image result for reactive attachment disorder quotes

  Lia likes to bring the cats in the house. I don't really like the idea but if it keeps her happy, I am willing to compromise a bit. The other day she had this cat in her bedroom. She came running to me and said she lost her cat. The girl's bedroom is small so I figured I would quickly be able to find it. Not so! I looked high and low without success before finding it crouched under the dresser. When I pulled the cat out I found it was wearing a dolly diaper!

Here is another quote I found. Maybe I am slow to catch on but while I knew transitions are hard for children with trauma, I never really thought about why that might be.

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