— Behavior Issues

Reactive Attachment
Disorder (RAD)

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RAD in our children

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RAD in Our Children

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a serious disorder that occurs when an infant or child is unable to form attachments to parents or caregivers. RAD in children usually occurs when a baby’s emotional and physical needs are neglected. Parents will focus on relationship-based parenting approaches to consistently work on strengthening trust and attachment. Trust will be based on the perception of the child and not the parent. It will take time to break down barriers and establish new ways of relating to caregivers. Parents dealing with RAD must be patient and consistent.

Parenting a Child with RAD

  • Ensure the child is in a safe environment where their emotional and physical needs can be met. Helping your child identify their feelings and setting up ways to increase feelings of safety will help them think from a more rational part of their brain.
  • Use Effective Communication to help listen actively to each other. Practice this skill with your child daily to establish healthy communication.
  • Focus on “repeating what is being said” when communicating. This allows the other person to be fully heard and understood without jumping to conclusions.
  • Avoid giving too much of your perspective in conversations or solving problems for them. Focus first on empathy, hearing what was being said, and then offering options. This might sound like, “I’m so sorry that you’re frustrated with your teacher. Do you want a suggestion or do you just want someone to listen?”
  • Address concerns with your child at a calm and neutral time by using Effective Communication. Allow your child to explore and examine your perspective by repeating back what was heard and clarifying.
  • Using the ABCs of Behavior, identify what is instigating your child’s negative behaviors. Antecedents can be superficial, like a sibling taking their belonging, or deep, like a feeling of not being listened to. It can be challenging to identify antecedents in children with RAD, and can be helpful to partner with a professional in understanding the true antecedent.
  • Once you identify patterns of problem behavior, use Preventive Teaching to practice alternative behaviors. This should be a fun and uniting activity; if it feels punishing then pause and return later. If it continues to be a challenge, then point that out to your child and ask for their suggestions on how to make the practice more positive.
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Lesson 8: Reactive Attachment Disorder


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