January 23, 2018

Prescribe the Behavior

One of our favorite things to do with our RAD kids is to prescribe the behavior. What exactly does that mean? Well let me explain.

(First of all, I’d like to say that many parenting techniques that work for healthy kids will not work for kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder. However, I believe that many of the techniques for parenting RAD kids that I’ve learned from Nancy Thomas and other RAD experts will work for attached, healthy kids. Prescribe the behavior is one of those techniques.)

Here’s how it works: when your child decides to do something obnoxious, irritating, or otherwise unacceptable, tell them to continue to do it for 10 minutes. Maybe they’re saying “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom…” incessantly. I know you’ve been there – we all have. Well, what we do is say “You’re pretty good at saying ‘Mom’. I want you to sit over there by the wall and say ‘Mom, mom, mom, mom’ for 10 minutes! If you’re going to do something, I want you to be the best you can be at it! Just keep saying it for 10 minutes so you can get really good at it!”

Then walk away and go about your business. If they do decide to do it, you’re just going to have to tough it out, but chances are they’re going to stop right away. What they really are doing is draining your energy and trying to make you mad. Remember, RAD children like to live in that fight, flight, freeze and freak section in the back of their brain, instead of the front, logical part. It’s where they feel comfortable and if you refuse to join them there it’s no fun at all for them, and they’ll stop the behavior.

Last week one of my kids decided to grab my cell phone and play keep away with it. I started to go after him and he held it over his head and started running from me. So I went against everything I wanted to do and said “Not a problem! You’re pretty good at that – I want you to stand there waving that phone over your head for 10 minutes!” Then I walked away. Guess what happened? He put the phone down.

There you go – another tool in your RAD toolbox. When they drive you nuts, prescribe the behavior.

Do you have a RAD kid in your house? I’ve recently been listening to a great set of CDs by Nancy Thomas called Healing Trust: Rebuilding The Broken Bond. It’s full of useful information, tools, and ideas for parents of Reactive Attachment Disorder kids.

We’ve also had much success with Total Transformation by James Lehman. Though it’s not written specifically for RAD kids, the techniques we’ve learned in it have worked very well for ours.

About the author: By

Matt is the parent (along with his wife Julie) to five wonderful kids. He has been self-employed for 25+ years and is 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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