I have recovered from my ranting post the other day and I am ready to tackle this disorder head on. Bring it on RAD.
Reactive Attachment Disorder what an ugly disorder. It has been under controversy for many years as to whether it is a true diagnosis for behavior exhibited by some children due to early neglect and abuse. The stories most people hear are about children who are violent, set houses on fire and torture animals and kill parents. All of that does happen in children with RAD but there is also the side that is the daily tug-of-war to maintain control, learn to love, trust and feel connected. A child with low self esteem but hyper vigilance in everything going on. Lacks motivation to succeed and makes few real friends. Our story is a testament that it is fact a real diagnosis.
What makes me so angry about RAD is that it is completely avoidable. Loving and nurturing a child in the early formative years and meeting a child’s needs and being a present caregiver would eliminate the years of pain a child goes through to recover. My “R” did not deserve this and it makes me so angry that she has to go through this painful healing process.
I hurt for “R” the fact that she is unable to trust adults, have healthy relationships with adults and peers, and has a battle inside of herself daily about whether she can trust me or her dad at any given moment.
They say that parenting a RAD kid needs to be backwards parenting. What works for normal functioning families for parenting and discipline does NOT work in a home with a RAD child. I did not want to believe this, to me it just didn’t make sense. She should respond the same way Right? No, living with a RAD child for two years I’ve learned that, that is exactly how you have to parent. The opposite of everything you learned. Throw it out the window and start over new.
I know it seems scary and it has been for me and Mike. We are learning all over again how to parent in a therapeutic way. In a way that creates safety and trust and bonding. It is a parenting style that requires that you don’t punish for wrong doing that may seem like it should be punished for but rejoice when your child comes and looks you in the eye and apologizes. That is a victory with RAD kids. Also, allowing natural consequences for actions so they learn life skills. Allowing yourself to laugh when the situation just seems so silly that you have to laugh about it or get angry. Letting yourself have freedom to see growth in the small things. Not to take it personally because it isn’t your fault.
This morning as we got out of the car “R” got mouthy with me and sassy and rolled her eyes and used some not so nice words with me about wearing her winter coat…. (Ummmm it is 24 degrees out and she has been sick, I think she needs her coat on). I looked at her and said “Honey, I am thinking that you don’t trust me right now to make the best choice for you and I get that, it is tough. I would like to talk to you about it if you could come over here” It took about 5 minutes but we had the conversation and a hug ended it and the coat was on. That was Progress. Do I like that she was rude to me “NO” but she was in a RAD place of panic and I needed to tell her I understood, and if I can get her calmed down to talk to me and get the point across then I have had success.
Therapeutic parenting isn’t about how strict you can be or how military you can be in your house. It is about finding a way to be empathetic. Reaching inside and finding that place of empathy for where your kiddo might be at that moment. Seeing the surface reaction with a tantrum or blow-up as a fear or concern that they cannot verbalize at the moment and maybe you have to put words to it for them.
I am finally getting it now and this isn’t what I expected from parenting and I have so much more to learn as I take one day at a time but by golly this is what we got and I am going to do the best job I can.
I can’t change her past but I sure as hell am going to fight to change her future.