Last week was the official start of hurricane season in many areas of the world. We’re facing Hurricanes Arlene, Calvin, and Nate out of the bunch this year. For parents of children with reactive attachment disorder, however, they’re bracing themselves for Hurricane Summer Break.
Those raising children with reactive attachment disorder have felt the whirlwind of hurricanes in their home for some time—often for years. Yet, day after day without school creates a whole new kind of disruption. Children with reactive attachment disorder quickly wear out their parents with controlling and disturbing behaviors—all day, every day. The sunny days full of lemonade stands and carefree sprinkler-running often aren’t happening for children battling trauma. Their parents are battling long days full of temper tantrums, tears, hair-pulling, stealing, lies, and sneaking.
Just like the rest of the year, children with RAD require constant supervision. But in the summer time, that responsibility is all on parents. Children with RAD aren’t often great candidates for summer camps and other organized activities. The program staff isn’t usually equipped to handle children with reactive attachment disorder. Kids with reactive attachment disorder wear out summer camp staff quickly. They also come home and expect their parents to constantly entertain them like the camp staff does. That’s because these kids don’t handle indulgence well and feel entitled (similar to reactive attachment disorder kids during the holidays)
Here’s how to get through “hurricane season” for parents of children with reactive attachment disorder:
1) Create structured activities to keep your child busy. Moms Denise and Dyan gave some great tips to keep your child with attachment disorder busy this summer.
2) Enroll your child in work camps to build skills and boost self-esteem. In our state, Colorado front range counties usually have summer work camps for kids to clear trails and build outdoor facilities. Unlike typical summer camps, your child won’t feel entitled to constant entertainment and will stay busy. Most programs require early spring applications. Perhaps you can find a program in your area that still accepts applicants.
3) If you want to take a family vacation, only take short trips with quick access back home. A child with attachment disorder can quickly ruin the fun for everyone on long trips.
4) Take a break for yourself through informal respite care with other parents. If you’re outside of Colorado, you can start a group in your area. If you’re in the Denver area, contact us to take part in our parent support group. Other parents in your situation will understand your child and have the capacity to care for him or her briefly—long enough to give you a chance to rest a bit. And then you can return the favor for other parents.