Written by Dyan Roosma, Treatment mom at the Institute for Attachment and Child Development
Loads of candy, hectic parties, and uncomfortable costumes – sounds like the perfect combination for havoc, especially for kids with reactive attachment disorder. If you can relate, you’re not alone. Parents of children with reactive attachment disorder have a particularly difficult time during Halloween, as well as every other holiday.
Understand Why Halloween Havoc Happens
What is it about the Halloween that bring out the worst in kids with reactive attachment disorder? These are just a few of the reasons behind holiday havoc. Once you understand the root of the problem, you can help to alleviate the chaos.
Let’s break it down:
Our society goes too far over the top with most holidays. Sure, kids in general tend to feel entitled this time of year. Yet, children with reactive attachment disorder can become combative and even violent if they don’t get enough “stuff” or what they expect.
All kids feel overloaded with the sights, sounds (and chaos) of Halloween parties. But our hyper-vigilant little people feel even more overwhelmed. They have an urgent need to take back control. This often results in a tantrum of epic proportions. Or, they orchestrate some kind of sneaky, behind-the-scenes behavior to create the most chaos possible.
3) Mom issues
Moms work hard to make holidays special for everyone. For a child struggling with reactive attachment disorder, mom is the number one target of attack (since she’s the “nurturing enemy”…learn more about this in the video Attachment Disorder in Children and Their Families).
When things go wrong, one little person in the house is usually to blame. That little person is under a lot of pressure during any holiday. That child worries about ruining the event. So in his or her black and white way of thinking, the child decides to ruin the day on his own accord (before it happens by accident)—as control is always the ultimate goal.
Learn How to Diffuse It
Now that you understand why it happens, change your holiday patterns.
Here are a few things I do to prepare for the holidays:
• I have learned to keep holidays low-key for the sake of my sanity and for my children’s sanity!
• I have learned which traditions I could live without. Instead, I work hard to create attachment-friendly traditions in their place.
• I have learned to say no to certain parties and taught my family how to give appropriate gifts.
• I have learned how to laugh and get help from others with my work so my child can’t devalue it.
• And last, but not least, I have learned to keep my child close, so they feel safe and secure.
If you follow all of these steps, you will have perfect holidays…NOT! But they can go a long way to help keep the day running smoothly. Happy Halloween!
Learn more about the dynamics of reactive attachment disorder and how to cope as a parent. Visit our video page and invite Forrest to speak to your parent group or organization.
Image courtesy of Tina Phillips at FreeDigitalPhotos.net