Here’s the hard truth about reactive attachment disorder—it won’t go away with luck, time, or love. If you’re a parent, it’s unlikely you’ll easily fall into the hands of a good therapist who makes all the difference. Children with reactive attachment disorder won’t outgrow it. An adoptive parent’s love won’t erase the pain and struggles of a child’s previous abuse and neglect.
But don’t give up. Whether you’re a parent yourself or supporting parents raising children with reactive attachment disorder, there is hope.
To raise, teach, or counsel a child with early trauma is overwhelming, to say the least. Although luck, time, and love aren’t enough to erase a child’s early trauma, we’ve seen what does make a difference. In order to help kids with reactive attachment disorder, you first need to truly understand what doesn’t work and why.
Here’s why luck, time, or love won’t “fix” reactive attachment disorder:
- Early trauma actually changes the brain. A child with reactive attachment disorder isn’t simply going through a defiant developmental stage that he’ll outgrow, unfortunately. He’ll need specific and specialized help to “retrain” his brain.
- Reactive attachment disorder often coexists with mental health disorders. Parents who abuse and neglect their children often do so as a result of their mental illnesses. Consequently, kids with developmental trauma tend to also have genetic mental illnesses. A child won’t outgrow a mental illness. A highly skilled and knowledgeable psychiatrist needs to diagnosis underlying mental illnesses before a child can begin to effectively tackle her attachment issues.
- Many professionals don’t know how to effectively help. If you’re a parent, don’t rely on luck to run into a good therapist. Traditional therapy doesn’t work for children with reactive attachment disorder. You need to do lots of research and find specialists.
- Kids with reactive attachment disorder do everything they can to push away love. Although children with reactive attachment disorder need support, care, and love, they will push the people who try to get close far away. Again, professional help is crucial and love alone isn’t enough.
There is hope.
Here’s what we recommend to parents of children with reactive attachment disorder:
- Stop, research, and get good help now. Don’t waste valuable time and money on ineffective treatment. The earlier you can get your child effective treatment, the better chance he has at a healthier life. You’ll need a good therapist and psychiatrist to start. We strongly believe in neurofeedback as well. Check out our guide to get started on your quest for a therapist.
- Take care of yourself. We know this is easier said than done. Your child really does need you, despite what she may say or do to push you away. Take care of yourself so you’re better able to take care of your child.
- Educate your support system. You’ll need lots of support from everyone around you to stay strong. Encourage friends and family to sign-up for our newsletter and peruse our website to learn about the realities of raising children with reactive attachment disorder.
The road ahead may seem daunting. Indeed, it may be. Yet, we’ve seen success and you can too. Reactive attachment disorder is a little-known and widely misunderstood disorder. However, we’re slowly seeing a change. People are starting to recognize and learn more. You can help to further ignite that movement for your family or those you know, as well as thousands of others. Continue to educate yourself, reach out, and speak up.