Written by Dyan Roosma, therapeutic treatment parent at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development
I love this time of year. With daylight savings time, I’ll get more hours of sunlight in the evening to run errands and shuttle kids to their events. I hate driving in the dark – the glare of oncoming headlights, the hard-to-see wildlife, and the uncertainty of what’s just beyond the reach of what I can see. To parent a child with reactive attachment disorder is a lot like night driving.
Why parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder feels like driving in the dark:
- The behaviors of kids with reactive attachment disorder can blind parents (and professionals) from real issues. It’s exhausting to deal with drama day after day. That exhaustion can lead us to lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with at least one, if not more, mental illnesses.
- Just like wildlife can jump out of nowhere, so can situations you are unprepared for when parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder.
- It’s difficult to clearly see & identify triggers for kids struggling with reactive attachment disorder.
5 tips for “parenting in the dark”:
- Keep a good support network in place. You need other people to help put the brakes on potential hazards thrown in your way.
- Try to stop worrying. No – you don’t what’s ahead. You only have so much control over your child’s future. If you worry excessively then you aren’t taking care of yourself (without a healthy driver in the family, no one will get anywhere).
- Find and use respite care to get a break from your child. Let someone else take the driver’s seat every now and then. You need to take care of yourself first in order to take care of anyone else.
- Don’t take your child’s behaviors personally, even when he or she directs behaviors right at you. Focus on the road directly in front of you rather than the glaring headlights. Keep perspective to keep your sanity.
- Love your child. Often, that’s all you can do. Accept that your child has free will. You’ll only be in this driver’s seat for a short amount of time. Your child will eventually make his or her own way in this world one day – whatever that may look like.
Hopefully you will find, just like daylight savings, that eventually there is more light than dark as you travel on this road. I have seen many kids succeed and wish the best for you in your journey as well!
To learn more about parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder and the Institute for Attachment and Child Development, please check out our Videos & More page.