You’re worn out. It feels as though the more you tell yourself to calm down and let go, the more it builds. Triggers. Your child has them and, unfortunately, you do too. For your child struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from early abuse and neglect, he has many triggers. And you are in a particularly sensitive position as the human you are and the experiences you’ve had raising your child—from which you might also have PTSD. Together, these combinations can cause all sorts of fireworks in the home.
It’s easy to get frustrated when your child is consistently oppositional day in and out. Children with reactive attachment disorder often lie, steal, deliberately defy authority figures, and treat adults with disrespect. As a therapeutic parent, however, you can’t let your own triggers take over.
4 things to remember as your child triggers you:
- You’re not perfect and that’s normal. Many people just like you get secondary post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of raising children with reactive attachment disorder. It’s important to realize that, as a human being, you have feelings, triggers, and stresses. Recognize them, forgive yourself for your human mistakes as a parent, and seek assistance.
- Remember, your child has a disorder. Although your child may look and sometimes act like other children, his brain is different. Children with reactive attachment disorder try to create distance so they don’t need others and because relationships scare them. Your child is intuitive about your triggers and will expose them to create distance. That’s why it’s called a disorder.
- Don’t own your child’s conflict. To parent with anger takes the focus off of your child’s responsibility for his actions. Instead, you and your emotions become center stage. When you’re highly emotional, you may yell or say something inappropriate and shame him. You then unravel any progress you’ve made with your child. He’ll feel unsafe with you and confirm his ideas that the world and all adults are dangerous.
- You need therapy too. Find a therapist who truly understands the realities of raising children with reactive attachment disorder to work with your whole family as well as you specifically. It’s hard to keep your cool when your child is calling you obscenities or bringing up all of your insecurities. Of course it is. This is why you need someone to help you recognize your triggers, work through them, and learn how to disconnect from your emotional responses.
To raise children with reactive attachment disorder isn’t easy by any means. Realize that the journey isn’t just about your child. Every family member, including you, is a part of the experience. Every person has his own emotions to recognize and work through. You can’t do it alone.