January 23, 2018

Big Feelings

Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder have no idea how to process their feelings. Everything, and I mean everything , at first comes out as anger. This can be scary for you and trust me it is scary for them. Now don’t be discouraged with this reality check. Because once you get this, there are definite steps in helping them heal.

First, let them get those big feelings out. Yep, that’s right. Slamming doors, throwing things, even yelling are a.o.k. Only thing off limits is hurting others, themselves or animals. This was hard for me at first because I have walls and doors with holes and broken things. I have had to put away my most valuables and be prepared to buy replacement doors. Nancy Thomas highly suggests this. Material things at this point are not as important as healing their hearts. Now this doesn’t need to be done in the middle of the living room with grandma looking on in horror. Have a room, their room if necessary, that is safe and place them in there. Then let them get those big feelings out.

Then when they wind down, go in and sit down with them. Say, “wow, you had some big feelings to get out”. Snuggling and sugaring (see articles on sugaring RAD kids) are a great start. Then you can ask what they were feeling. And they will, at first again, say mad! Here you tell them, mad hides their real big feeling. And explain what that means. Here is a video that I love that best describes this process.

Last night, our #5 had a big feeling episode going to bed. Shoes, legos, clothes flew in his room. We were able to snuggle and sugar and tuck him in. Due to the late hour, we opted to finish in the morning working it out. His dad was amazing! As he tripped over the lego bin and spilled it, #5 became discouraged at the mess. Dad said when things are out of control it leads to more chaos. This kiddo hopped up (buzz word for brain) this morning and cleaned up his mess including the legos. He got to make it right, which heals his heart. And onto the identifying the mystery feeling behind the mad!

I saw a boy feeling lighter and more loving this morning, getting rid of some of the built up feelings in his heart. I know, trust me I know, it seems backwards as does most therapeutic parenting. But it’s best for them and it works!

Looking for a great resource for parenting Reactive Attachment Disorder kids? Nancy Thomas gives all the answers in her book When Love Is Not Enough. If you’ve got a child that you suspect has RAD, you must get this book!

About the author: By

Julie is an awesome parent (along with her husband Matt) to five adopted kiddos and the owner of the Parenting Allies website.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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