RAD manipulation often relies on a “divide and conquer” strategy and children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder understand that all too well.
Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire!
At first we couldn’t get a therapist to help our new fifteen-year-old daughter who suffered from severe Reactive Attachment Disorder. Her English was too weak and no one wanted the liability they thought would come if they provided the wrong counsel because of a language barrier. After several crisis situations, a volunteer from the state got involved and helped us with a recommendation that ensured a therapist would take her case. The bad news was that the therapist had no experience with RAD and had no degree of understanding about the adeptness of RAD manipulation.
The truth is that teens and even children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder ARE smart enough to manipulate ANYONE.
When our meetings with the new therapist turned into helping our daughter to deal with our unreasonableness as parents, we were doomed. When we had given up on anything except demands of our daughter to follow established laws and the therapist still thought we needed to compromise, I suggested that my daughter was manipulating him. “I assure you, Mr. Simmons,” he said, “She is not smart enough to manipulate a professional therapist. That is not the problem, here.” That’s when I wanted to scream out the taunt reserved for untruths told on a playground.
The truth is that teens and even children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder ARE smart enough to manipulate ANYONE. However, a therapist who specializes in RAD knows all about RAD manipulation. They know that’s where the child is going and it doesn’t take them long to head her off at the pass. We have an excellent therapist for RAD, but our daughter was even able to manipulate us (the parents) to make sessions less effective. She would act out the day of, or the day before scheduled therapy so that we would want the therapist to address behavior. Our daughter was doing this to avoid talking about trauma. Talking about trauma was pain. Talking about behavior was discussing how she was controlling her parent’s actions. RAD manipulation beat us until we figured out what she was doing and had the therapist focus on trauma regardless of behavior. Soon sessions became more effective, again.
RAD manipulation is played to great effect on teachers and school administrators.
RAD manipulation is played to great effect on teachers and school administrators. The child usually admits to mild infractions and then lays out a laundry list of ways that the parent overreacted, leading the educator to believe that the parent is a monster. My favorite was when the teacher wanted to know why we had refused to help my daughter with her homework every time she asked for help. The part of the story that the teacher hadn’t heard was that my daughter had refused to do her homework for hours and only asked for help after bedtime when she was sent to bed. Still, what she had told the teacher was literally true (at least in that isolated case). We had refused to help her with her homework. On another occasion we had refused to let her work on a project the last evening before it was due. Forget the fact that we had a previously planned engagement for that evening and my daughter had refused to put any effort into the project for two weeks of prior opportunities and demands from us to work on it.
Church is a goldmine for a child using RAD manipulation.
Church is a goldmine for a child using RAD manipulation. Parents of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder are usually pretty careful about giving their kids opportunity to see them breaking laws or in major ethics violations, if for no other reason than it gives the kid an excuse to do the same. (It’s not just RAD. I can’t tell you how many times I threw the hypocrisy argument at my own parents). Still, at church, the child will absolutely find areas where parents are less than perfect. And… the parents have offended the greatest of all… God! No child could ever find a better place to acquire bullets for their RAD manipulation gun than at church. It gets even better than that. Church is loaded with all kinds of people who are supposed to be willing to get in and care for someone who needs it. RAD manipulation goes into overdrive while trying to show all of these “saints” that they need to save the poor, innocent child from demonic parents.
RAD manipulation often relies on a “divide and conquer” strategy.
My archives are loaded with comments and emails where parents tell heartbreaking stories of losing friends and status in the community due to parenting a child who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. Sometimes parents isolate themselves because they are embarrassed by some of their child’s chronic behaviors such as lying, stealing and manipulation. Other times, parents feel ostracized by communities where they had previously been pillars because their parenting tactics are deemed harsh. RAD manipulation often relies on a “divide and conquer” strategy and children who suffer from the disorder do all that they can to increase punishments that they can present out of context or completely lie about in order to gain sympathy from friends of the parents and communities where the parents associate. Parents need to be careful about escalating punishments (which works so well with most children) when it comes to parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Punishment escalations almost never work with RAD. But even when punishments for children who have RAD are mild, but delivered with unwavering consistency (as RAD treatment requires), many who are not familiar with the disorder and RAD manipulation are offended. Sadly, some friends and stature in a community often need to be sacrificed for what is best for our families and the children who are victims of Reactive Attachment Disorder.
Trying to justify rules, explain them, or subject them to argument only empowers RAD manipulation.
If you want to reduce RAD manipulation, take away arguments as much as you can. Arguing empowers the child. Anything you say in an argument can and will be used against you, by your child, among your friends and in the community. You don’t have the right to an attorney (unless it ends up in the legal system). You will be judged purely on speculation, rumor and innuendo. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose by arguing with your child who suffers from Reactive Attachment Disorder. Answers like, “because that’s the rule, that’s why,” are sufficient. If you end up in court for breaking the speed limit, the judge isn’t obligated to explain to you why the law is what it is. The same goes for rules of the house. Trying to justify rules, explain them, or subject them to argument only empowers RAD manipulation.
Children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder use manipulation because it is a very effective tool for them. The more often we can shut down RAD manipulation right up front, the less effective it is. And just like anyone else, children who suffer from RAD have no use for an ineffective tool.
OK. You have heard me say again and again that I’m not a professional when it comes to RAD, just a dad. You have also heard me say that my favorite author who writes on the subject is Gregory C Keck. There are some presentations on the site for Dr. Keck’s clinic that I think you will see as a gold mine. Here you go! http://www.abcofohio.net/presentations.html
Often, readers receive as much help from other readers in the comments section as they do from the blog article, itself. Please be generous with your thoughts and experiences in the comments section. There are lots of people who need what you have to share. This is your chance to help them.
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