Parents that have a child with RAD spend a minimum of six months to a year healing the heart of their wounded child. Great emphasis is placed on structure, nurturing, trust-building, and bonding.
Listed below are a few of the key points used in the healing process.
Bonding with Your Child
“As the parent of such a child, you may fall down a thousand times and feel like giving up. It is important to remember that inside, parents are wired for success, not failure… falling down should be nothing new to you. It is not different from when you were a small child and decided to learn how to walk. Though you stumbled and fell flat on your face many times, and you cried, you didn’t stay there on the ground. If someone didn’t help you up you got up yourself and tried again, and again, until the goal was reached. It happened one step at a time.”
(High Risk, 1987)
Keys to Bonding with a Child suffering from Attachment Disorder
- Warm loving eye contact, soft and full of smiles
- Loving touch, such as holding, hugging, cuddling, massages
- Movement, such as rocking, bouncing, or dancing together
- Smiles from your eyes
- Sweet milk sugar, such as caramels, ice cream, or pudding
Other Factors for Bonding
- Pizzazz – lots of it! Pizzazz any and every behaviour that you want your child to repeat. These children crave excitement – giving it in a positive way using pizzazz helps them focus on the positive stuff rather than the negative stuff.
- Parent interactions that encourage reciprocity on the parents’ terms, such as singing together, reciting nursery rhymes, or playing imitating games where the child follows the parent. Parents of RAD children need to be strong leaders and make the activity choices until the child is strong enough to handle it.
- Children working together with parents in a fun way, activities that the child completes on the parents’ terms to enable the child to give to the family.
- Strong Parents use action, not anger! Prevent manipulation between adults so the child can feel safe and learn to trust.
- Have continuity with the child’s past. Life books are a great way to do this! Begin with the child’s birth, and continue on until the present time.
- Real parents are forgiving of birth parents. If the real parents think of the birth or previous parents as “trash” or “no good,” the child will think they are that way too.
- Parents control the smiles and hugs, not the disturbed child
- Work from your head, not your heart
- It is better to start out too strict and lighten up, than the reverse
- Be consistent with rules and expectations, varying the consequences
- Stay focused on the goal: A loveable child and a happy home
- Underneath the monster is a hurting child. That’s the one you are fighting for (not with!) That’s the one you snuggle, hold, and love forever.
Keys to Bonding with High-Risk Infants
High-risk infants are those that have suffered from one or more of the risk factors mentioned HERE.
- Breastfeed if possible
- Always hold the bottle – NEVER prop it
- Carry baby in a baby wrap or sling, on the front, facing Mom, four to six hours a day
- Massage baby 20 minutes each day while smiling and using a high voice
- Hold and rock baby with loving eye contact, smiles, and singing or reading in happy “baby talk” each day
- Feed sweet milk in Mom’s arms with soft eye contact, touch (stroke baby’s face, hold fingers), loving voice
- Baby should nap daily skin-to-skin on Dad’s chest
- Baby should sleep with or near parents at night. Be careful to avoid falls. Look for a crib that attaches to parents’ bed, or move it there.
- Do not allow baby to self-feed
- No “baby carrier”, baby is carried in loving arms
- No stroller facing away from Mom
- No one feeds the baby except Mom
- No one holds the baby except for Mom and Dad unless less than five minutes a day
- Baby must not be left to cry alone for longer than three minutes
- Hold baby facing you heart-to-heart
- No exposure to TV for one full year
- Delay painful medical procedures, if possible, until baby is fully bonded
- Play Mozart music to soothe baby
- Respond to baby’s attempts to get your love and attention with joy!
From “When Love is not Enough”; Nancy Thomas.
Attachment helps a child to:
- attain his full intellectual potential
- sort out what he perceives
- think logically
- develop a conscience
- become self-reliant
- cope with stress and frustration
- handle fear and worry
- develop future relationships
- reduce jealousy (Fahlberg, 1979)
“Attachment is the most critical thing that happens in infancy other than meeting the baby’s physical needs. Too much emphasis cannot be placed on this point.”
(High Risk, 1987)