Posted by: amica | March 31, 2009

The Beginning

I have been reading and talking with fellow RAD parents trying to understand my role.  I am the most important role, of course as all parents are, but I need to know what to do. I have been overwhelmed with the support I have received across our great country of those going through much worse than I.  So many have taken the time to speak with me, send me resources, offer advice and support.  I never knew there were so many out there.  It makes sense though.  How many children are adopted?  How many children have birth moms that used while pregnant?  How many premature babies have to remain in the hospital long after their mom was discharged? How many kids are in the foster system bouncing from one home to another?  All of these children are at high risk of having attachment disorders, yet it is something most people are unaware of.  Why isn’t there more education and media coverage helping our society to prevent this from happening? I am so saddened by the stories I read. So many children are violent and unable to control their emotions because they lacked nurturing and/or the attachment to their primary caregiver.  The most severe cases that never received treatment for their attachment disorder? Ted Bundy. Charles Manson. Adolf Hitler. The kids that shot up Columbine. The list goes on.  They never developed a conscience, never found an outlet for their anger, never were shown how or that it’s ok to trust someone and have a genuine relationship. I feel so blessed at this point that there are no signs of violence with my kids.  H isn’t even angry.  She IS always “hurt” or “sick”.  She can’t tell the truth to save her life, seriously, she has no control or at least she hasn’t yet learned how to control her lies.  Not just those lies kids tell to stay out of trouble.  Lies that lead you to believe she lives in her own world. It is difficult for me to have a conversation with her because of this.  I can’t ask “How was your day?” and get an honest answer – her replies are filled with over-the-top dramatic situations that never took place.  Every morning she is sick, every scrape or bruise should require medicine and a trip to the doctor. She hugs me 1000 times a day, at inappropriate times.  She doesn’t know a stranger and doesn’t heed the rules to stay away from them.  She cannot be trusted to play outside alone because she WILL go with anyone that asks. She likes boys –  a lot. There has been sexual trauma in her past and she has had a knife held to her throat when she was 2. The nightmares are horrific. Scenes a child should never see in the scariest movie play themselves in my daughters mind over and over. She trusts all, needs attention from all, and without help, will seek out love in all the wrong places.

M has anger – A LOT of anger. He isn’t violent at all – yet.  I say yet only because I have been repeatedly advised that in most cases, the violence will show itself during puberty years.  Oh, the love of hormones. He is extremely sensitive and is convinced everyone is making fun of him, everyone has more than him, everyone is smarter, more attractive, and more talented than he could ever be.  He doesn’t walk around in a pity boat though – he walks around angry at the world.  He verbally attacks his sister constantly.  She is his primary source of resentment.  She got to live with their mom.  She knows her dad while he’s never met his.  Trying to explain to him that none of this is her fault is pointless. I know, I’ve tried. He, in classic RAD form, does exactly what he feels is right for him.  If it happens to be the same as a rule I have set, great.  If he believes another option is, in his mind, safer, more logical, easier – this is the option he takes.  It appears that he is continually disobeying and although technically he is, his reason isn’t to disrespect but because he can’t trust me or any other adult to make the right decision for him.  He is a survival child and will do whatever it takes to keep himself safe. He has to control every situation even if that means controlling me by making me angry. For 5 years he has been able to do this successfully.  But now, I have knowledge and with this knowledge I have the control and he is not liking it.

It is called Therapeutic Parenting:

-Strict Limits

-Explicit Expectations

-Parenting with Humor

-Keeping the Child Off Balance

I do not raise my voice, use sarcasm, show irritation, or in any way allow them to control my feelings or actions.  Do you have any idea how hard this is???  I am trying not to be led by my emotions so I can successfully teach my kids to do the same.  I guess I now see how tall this order is for them. I smile, say things like Honey, you can take as many breaks as you like but you can’t go play until your chores are completed. Honey, I removed your bedroom door and put it in the garage; it seemed to be getting in your way today (slamming it over and over), Honey, I need you to come sit next to me (time in, not time outs anymore) until you feel you can talk to your sister in a calm tone. If you ask them to put their shoes in one place and they put them in another, say Oh I am so glad you did that because that is really where I wanted them. It’s hard, especially when M’s response is slamming things, yelling at me, and looking like his head is about to explode. The point is to not let him control me and to also show that I can be trusted to love him unconditionally. If I show anger, to him this isn’t love.

We started a couple of new techniques last night.  Strong sitting is one that I read about and even have viewed on youtube. M was not a trooper on this one, he complained that his legs hurt and therefore was unable to be still or quiet. H, always eager to please, did great.  We will be doing this 3 times a day and they will both eventually build to their age in minutes.  Tapping was also introduced.  These will take time to become habits or permanent fixtures but I have heard about great success with both.

By the way, Helen Keller also had RAD. She received help from Ann Sullivan and became a wonderful humanitarian.  These kids can heal.



  1. Yoga would be such a great way to compliment the strong sitting technique. I’m sure there are some wonderful calming kids yoga dvds to choose from. Yoga was developed to make the meditative posture more comfortable and enduring. it will help M’s muscles adapt. His hips may be really tight which makes the cross-legged position uncomfortable. Yoga will also help with breathing techniques which will enhance the benefits of the strong sitting posture. Have you ever noticed if M and H breathe fully and deeply from the diaphragm? I think shallow chest breathing is common for trauma sufferers. Plus, yoga poses release emotional energy and improve emotional capacity. This would be a great thing for the whole family to practice together!

    • great idea! He has complained a few times in the last 6 months about his legs hurting after sitting for while or squatting. He may need to just stretch his muscles. Thanks!

  2. I’m so in awe of you! It seems like you’ve done exhaustive research, reached out and found help, and developed a plan that’s already showing results with the kids. My heart breaks for what they went through in early childhood, but they could not be more blessed than to have YOU on their side!

    • I love to plan – it’s the follow through that I usually have trouble with. I think the alternative of NOT following through will be enough to keep me going though!

  3. has the book arrived yet?!?! I can’t wait to get started on the guided imagery recordings! please keep us posted on the tapping and sitting progress. Also, I was wondering, what have you told the kids about the changes in your parenting style, if anything? and how did you introduce the new techniques to them?

    • no books yet but the DVDs did arrive today. Wouldn’t you know my DVD player on the laptop won’t work – UGH! Plan B will be activated soon.

  4. Thanks for the link on tapping! Yahoo! I’m going to link that on my blog.

    Yoga….way to go….J does yoga every day after she does her strong sitting. Excellent!

    You’re a real go-getter! I love that about you!

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