Like any other field, buzz words come and go through the world of psychotherapy and psychology. One word that has been trending lately is “attachment”. And not just attachment, but “reactive attachment”. Like the announcement of the ADHD era, parents and caregivers may be concerned and wondering what reactive attachment disorder is and does it effect me or my child?
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) refers to individuals that have aversions to touch and physical affection, control issues, anger problems, difficulty showing genuine care and affection, and failure to show guilt or remorse. Specifically in children, detached or unresponsive behavior is common. Children and toddlers also are less likely to reach to be picked up, reject efforts to be calmed or soothed, and attempt to avoid eye contact.
There are two types of RAD: inhibited and disinhibited. Inhibited type refers more to indiviudals that experience detached or unresponsive symptoms, while disinhibited individuals typically have difficulty selecting the appropriate people or caregivers to attach to.
Now I know what it is, but what can I do about it?
There are many ways to assist adults and children with working through Reactive Attachment Disorder in order to have more healthy and fulfilling relationships. For childen, unconditonal love is key to helping them learn to re attach in a healthy way. Setting positive limits and boundaries, maintaining predictable schedules and routines, and talking and playing with them regularly also can be helpful. For adults, changing faulty thinking patterns that have led to disengaging from others can be helpful. Working on gaining a positive sense of self-esteem and self acceptance may help as well. Professional help is available for children and adults that are struggling with or are concerned about RAD.
For your reading pleasure
A great book for promoting and repairing attachment with children is I Love You Rituals by Becky A. Bailey, PhD. It gives different activities for parents and children that encourage bonding and showing unconditional love.
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