In the RAD cycles of three-steps-forward—two-steps-back, soon after rock-bottom, something happens. I’m convinced the change is related to RAD safety.
Thank You for Keeping me Safe… From Me.
It has been a tough couple of weeks in our family. Two of the three of our children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder have crashed. We begin again on the perpetual cycle of three-steps-forward—two-steps-back. Of course there was plenty of outrage and behavioral mayhem on the way down. As we and those who support our family members tried to redirect these children before the crash, we negotiated, bargained and pleaded. (Yep. We negotiated with terrorists.) In the end it came down to RAD safety.
Soon after rock-bottom, something happens, though. I’m convinced the change is related to RAD safety.
There’s a fine line between bargains and giving in, which only reinforces the belief in children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, that there is no consistency in the world. If we compromise against rules that have already been set, we are doing more harm than good; even if it purchases a temporary reduction in bad behavior. In such instances, success is short-lived. So, when our children couldn’t manipulate their way into their demands with bad behavior, rather than changing their approach, they increased the bad behaviors. You have been there. You know what I’m talking about. So, privileges fell victim to consequences until most of the privileges they had earned are on at least some sort of restriction. (Of course we always leave enough in place so they don’t feel like there is no reason to try, anymore.) That’s when it hits rock-bottom and there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Soon after rock-bottom, something happens, though. I’m convinced the change is related to RAD safety.
This “safe” is different from most applications of the word “safety.” We’re talking about RAD safety.
When one of my children who has Reactive Attachment Disorder gets to the point they cannot get any angrier, there is usually a softening. For no apparent reason, they accept the consequences for their actions. They apologize. They become affectionate. They want me to show affection to them that they have been rejecting on the long fall to rock-bottom. Usually this point in the cycle is short-lived, but it is there. Some would attribute it to RAD charm, saying that the child is just trying to get their way by trying another method, but I don’t think so. I have enough experience with children who suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder to feel the difference between a hug that says: “Don’t you think I’m cute?” and an embrace that says, “I really do love you, even though I’m afraid. Please help me. Please keep me safe.” This “safe” is different from most applications of the word “safety.” We’re talking about RAD safety.
More often than not, RAD safety is keeping children safe; from themselves.
If we are staying on the right path, being consistent with our children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder, and providing for support from sources outside our immediate family, who also teach our children consistency, they are slowly learning. In such cases they are beginning to understand that they are not safe when they are breaking rules. Of course they want what they want and they will fight to get it whether or not it is good for them (much like a drug addict). But they do recognize that we are trying to keep them safe; safe from themselves. More often than not, RAD safety is keeping children safe; from themselves.
So after all of the spewing hate and rage on the way down, these children from Reactive Attachment Disorder realize that we truly love them and want what is best for them. Of course these feelings agitate the whole foundation of Reactive Attachment Disorder and they immediately begin to re-build walls to protect themselves from their perceived dangers of attachment. But if only for a moment; a very brief moment, we have a rare opportunity. If we are tuned in to our child, and not too emotional or angry from the trip to rock-bottom, we can harvest a rare pearl from within the ugly oyster of Reactive Attachment Disorder. During that short time between the rage on the way down and wall-rebuilding after the crash, we can feel a child sincerely expressing their thanks fro RAD safety; “Thank you Mom (or Dad). Thank you for protecting me. From me.” It’s like trying to catch a ray of sunshine in your hand. Success is all but impossible. But when you achieve that goal, it is exquisite.
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.
Read more blog articles by John M. Simmons about Disorders/Mental Illness
Return to John M. Simmons’ Blog
Ensure you don’t miss anything when you sign up for notifications