We’d like to thank Sarah Harmeyer, a mother within our greater RAD community, for sharing this post. The more we join together, the stronger we become. Thanks Sarah. Share YOUR story next!
Attachment is for everyone, but therapy might not be. Attachment has directly affected me. And, it has directly affected you – so much so that it helped shape the way our brains actually, physically formed. Some of the neural connections in your brain today were formed by attachment. Some of the neural connections you don’t have are also absent because of attachment. (Attachment and Early Brain Development)
I have children. Attachment affects the way I currently care for them and if you have children, it affects the way you currently care for them. It influences whether or not you are “in tune” with their emotional and physical needs. When your children are upset attachment determines your “gut reaction” to their emotions. There is even evidence that it affects our current relationships with other adults. That makes attachment pretty big, life altering stuff. (White, Chris M.D.)
But what is it?
Simply put, attachment is the type of relationship we formed with the person(s) who cared for us as a child. It also describes the type of relationship we are currently forming with our own children. It was within the context of attachment to our caregivers that we developed into the people we are today. And, it is the current environment in which our children are becoming adults. (White, Chris M.D.)
So, attachment is for me and my family. Attachment therapy is not for everyone. Yet, kids with attachment issues specifically do need attachment therapy, not traditional therapy.
Here’s why we decided to get attachment therapy for our family—
1. We Saw the Warning Signs Early
- Avoiding eye contact
- Covering eyes or ears to “hide” themselves from you
- Inconsolable when angry/hurt/upset
All children do these things, yes. So why would they be cause for concern? Why would a child who plays by themselves and doesn’t seem to care that you left the room be a problem? Or, a child that doesn’t seek to be picked up, hugged, held? These aren’t problems when they happen occasionally, or when your child only displays one or two of them. But when these behaviors are your every day, your every hour experience with your child it’s very, very concerning. When you can’t go thirty minutes without your child hating you, a toy, or another person in your family there is cause for concern. When your child comforts themselves by crying in a puddle on the floor, rocking, biting their lip, etc. and no matter how many hugs or pats you give them your affection does nothing for them, there is great cause for concern. These behaviors are not normal and it is not healthy.
Know the warning signs early. This doesn’t just go away. Kids don’t just grow out of this because attachment is based on the way we as parents are interacting with our kids or the way other primary care givers have treated them. Educate yourself. Here is a great place to start. We knew what to look for and we knew we needed help.
2. Friends Living With the Consequences of Poor Attachment Told us to GET HELP NOW!
Some of the heartache our friends live with on a daily basis are: A child lying about the obvious, living in moment-by-moment defiance, lacking guilt or remorse for poor choices, seeking attention from anyone other than his/her primary care givers.
And it all stems from a lack of secure attachment.
My friends listened as I shared concerns over my own children’s attachment and their response was loud and clear, “Get help now!”
And so I listened. My husband and I researched. I cried. And we signed up for attachment therapy.
That’s what I was crying about and If you feel like crying right now I understand.
However, if your child is older than three please, please know there is hope.
Doing what you can today will make a difference.
Researcher Dr. Karyn Purvis says it this way, “The human brain is a powerful machine – it can physically forge new neural connections over our entire lifespan. The earlier your child receives appropriate intervention, the more opportunity there is for the body and brain to heal and the more impressive the possible behavioral gains.” (The Connected Child 21 (emphasis added))
Did you see that? Our brains can actually grow new neural connections over our entire lifespan. That means there is hope for your older-than-three child. Remember when I said that the type of attachment we have with our care giver actually physically forms our brain? That is what Dr. Purvis is talking about. That process can continue even when we are past the 0-3 primary development window for attachment.
BUT, it also means that the earlier you start the better. So, what can you do TODAY? I suggest learning more about attachment and start your search for a qualified attachment specialist. You can help your child develop a healthy attachment, but you can’t do it on your own.
Thanks to Sarah Harmeyer for sharing her post. Sarah is a foster and adoptive mom. She shares real life as a foster parent in order to share real encouragement on her site www.Parentsoffostercare.com. She’s been read by thousands and is passionate about helping others know what foster care is really all about.
Please note – Nichole Noonan, Institute for Attachment and Child Development Communication Director, made some minor modifications to Sarah’s original piece to reflect the IACD philosophy and voice.