By Forrest Lien
Ah, December…’tis the season of overindulgence and entitlement. While many kids act entitled this time of year, it’s heightened for kids with reactive attachment disorder. In fact, this season is often the worst time of year for kids with reactive attachment disorder and their parents.
Here are 3 tips for parents of kids with reactive attachment disorder around the holidays:
1. Set appropriate limits around gifts and entitlement issues. Do not overindulge your children at any time, even birthdays and holidays.
2. Create a paradigm-shift of gift giving in your family. In addition to limiting gifts, give only those that provide opportunities to build relationships (i.e. board games, etc.) or those that meet their needs (i.e. reasonably-priced clothing) and ask family members to do the same.
3. Work with a therapist who understands the dynamics of entitlement of children with reactive attachment disorder. Allow a therapist to help you make the gift-giving paradigm-shift in your immediate family as well as with discouraging family members. Your children and family members will likely fight the paradigm-shift. Relatives want to indulge their grandchildren, nieces, and nephews. However, such gifts inhibit the emotional growth of your child and family relationships.
Reasons kids with attachment disorder create holiday chaos
There’s a reason parents of kids with reactive attachment disorder dread this time of year. Due to neglect and abuse during critical developmental stages, they are “stuck” emotionally in the toddler stage of development. That is, they want what they want when they want it (i.e. “Give me what I want. What’s taking you so long? Do NOT tell me NO”). When that child is a teenager with reactive attachment disorder, they throw frequent toddler-like temper tantrums around the holidays…but in a much larger body and with more colorful language. That’s a scary experience for the whole family.
Parents rely on electronic tantrum-tamers
A lot of parents give into the “wants cycle” of their children with reactive attachment disorder because the constant battle or tantrums wear them down. They often allow their kids to focus on video games or electronics rather than on relationships. Parents often settle for a calm house while their kids are drones in front of electronics. They do so to avoid the trouble it’d take to lay down appropriate boundaries with “things”. However, electronics and music players with headphones create isolation and distance in relationships. In addition, these expensive gifts foster the cycle of entitlement for children with reactive attachment disorder.
Little people tantrums grow into big people tantrums
Many parents rely on TV or electronics to “keep the peace” – not just those of children with reactive attachment disorder. The results for our parents, however, are much worse. If parents don’t teach otherwise, kids with reactive attachment disorder don’t grow out of their cause-and-effect thinking like other children might. Rather, they stay stuck in the toddler developmental stage, grow into adults, and continue to create battles to get their ways. They grow into extremely difficult adult children, parents, employees, bosses, etc.
Parents with children in their home still have time to give their children a chance to learn that relationships are more important than gifts. They can learn that time and love last longer and are more valuable than material things. That is the greatest gift of all.
Help keep families together. Give your tax-deductible gift of rest and peace to weary parents in the new year.
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net