February 24, 2018

What Is Going on Inside A Reactive Attachment Disorder Child’s Mind – An Insider’s Look

My son came home from school heartbroken today – his girlfriend broke up with him (via a friend based on what something another boy said supposedly!). He was crying buckets which was hard enough. But what was even harder was he wouldn’t talk to us. No that is an understatement, he yelled at us that we shouldn’t even care about him. And he wouldn’t take a hug, a shoulder rub, he just moved away and that was once he even let us in his room. Any words of comfort from anyone, even friends were rebuffed. What?!

Now a few weeks ago, this would have been baffling. But yesterday I attended a luncheon for a regional foster/adoption agency and heard just what I needed to get a handle on this boy’s actions. It answers exactly why this kiddo is pushing and spiraling. It seems that on the surface, he is just angry and hurt, which he is. But down inside, the rejection rules. Per the Total Transformation program, he does not yet have the tools to deal with it. And furthermore, the rejection leads to his feelings of not being worth anything. That includes kind words and hugs.  After all, his birth parents didn’t want him, right?!  So he must be garbage to just be thrown away. This isn’t exactly earth shattering news, I know that from dealing with 5 adopted kiddos. So that isn’t the AHA moment. This is…

He longs to be hugged and spoken to comfortingly! But the worthlessness beats it out, seemingly strangles him. Even as he tries to give in. It is a colossal internal conflict that goes on continuously. Which supports him feeling unworthy, not being able to overcome that damning voice! That enlightened me immensely. In her book Even Tough Girls Wear Tutus, Deborah Jiang Stein describes this excellently. Being born in a prison, she always viewed herself as just that – a person born in a prison. And who but someone worthless would be born in a prison. So whenever something good was going to happen, that thought would overpower her and she was not able to allow it to happen. Or if something bad did happen, like to my son, it made sense because that is what she deserved.

Didn’t you want to know this, parents of kids with attachment issues? Isn’t it an eye opener? How it has helped me tonight to not feel so impotent, to not take it personally,  and to stay consistent in parenting him with love and logic!

P.S. Guess who just came and shared what happened! Chalk one up for worthiness!

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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  1. Shannon Howard says:

    Enjoyed the article. I have a daughter with RAD.

  2. We have custody of our niece she has been through everything I’m trying to find help

  3. So hard, Christine. Keep up the good work! If she’s got RAD, I’d suggest starting out with Nancy Thomas’s book When Love Is Not Enough. It’s done wonders for us. Plus, we’ve had some good results from Total Transformation, but it’s not really made for RAD kids.

  4. There are some “therapists” who use something called holding therapy on kids. They say it’ll help, but some kids have died and therapists lose their license for doing it. I wanted to post this so no one else falls for it. They’re really good salespeople and tell you “It’s the only way to help your kid”, but it’s not. It’s abuse.

    You can see for yourself here: http://childrenintherapy.org/

    I wanted to post it here so that no one else gets tricked by these people!

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