Most interpersonal relationships are built on the basis of trust. When an infant or young child has a physical need (hunger or some kind of discomfort) or an emotional need (for tender care, smile, hugs, kisses) that is not fulfilled, the child begins to lose trust in those who care for him. Without trust, he is unable to build healthy, positive and two-way relationships with those who follow him and this creates the conditions for the formation of reactive attachment disorder (RAD). The consequences of this can be numerous. Start reading at step 1 below if you know a child who may be suffering from this disorder.
Part 1 of 3: Diagnosing RAD in Infants
Step 1. See how the child is developing
Frankly speaking, children with RAD will not develop normally physiologically, emotionally or mentally. When they do not develop properly, it is expressed in different ways:
- Physically. They don't gain enough weight due to poor nutrition.
- Emotionally. Even when they are upset, they cannot calm down, because they believe that there is no person from whom they could receive help, support and warmth.
- Mentally. Based on previous experience, they manage to form fairly clear ideas about how their mother / primary caregiver will respond to them and their needs.
Step 2. See how they participate in the game
It is worth repeating that children with RAD do not participate in active play and other activities. As a rule, they look like "good children" who are not difficult to follow and who do not need serious supervision and monitoring. They don't do much at all.
As a rule, such children show inhibition and lethargy in physical movements, and also play little with toys or do not want to explore the world around them. Babies are naturally inquisitive, but babies with this disorder are not
Step 3. Pay attention if the child does not feel close to the mother / primary caregiver
Children with this disorder do not differentiate between their primary caregiver and strangers. They do not show affection for their mother and, in fact, are more likely to seek understanding and intimacy with unfamiliar adults. This is different from how healthy children behave, who seek comfort and support from those they trust and love.
You can understand what problems this will lead to in later life. If a child or teen seeks support from strangers, prepare for problems. This manifestation of RAD leads to impulsive, radical behavior later in life
Step 4. Look at the relationship between the mother / primary caregiver and the child
A good relationship between the child and the caregiver rests on a sense of attachment and community. It helps your toddler develop qualities such as empathy, social skills, and skills to help control their emotions. If the relationship is not like that, these skills will not be nurtured in the child. How does the caregiver treat the child? When a child cries, does he come to him? Is there a positive attitude in the relationship?
Here is what Freud said about the relationship between a child and his mother: “The relationship between mother and child is the prototype for all future relationships.” In cases of this disorder, he was not mistaken. These relationships are likely to determine all other relationships of the child with others. people throughout his life
Part 2 of 3: Diagnosing RAD in Children and Adolescents
Step 1. Know how the "inhibited" RRS manifests itself
Children with this type of RAD are unable to initiate and respond adequately to social interactions and tend to avoid social contacts.
When a child's needs are not met, they feel they are deprived of love and affection, and this causes them to perceive themselves as unloved and unworthy to receive proper care, attention and love when they need it. This leads to the fact that the child begins to feel insecure and insecure, and when you do not feel safe, you are not confident in communicating with others. This is projected onto self-esteem, which affects all areas of a person's life
Step 2. Know how the "relaxed" RWP manifests itself
However, some children with RAD show their willingness to socialize and communicate overly and overtly. They try to seek comfort, support, and love from virtually all adults, whether they know them or not. This behavior is generally considered promiscuous and can lead to the wrong path in life.
This is the type of child who has learned not to rely on those he is supposed to trust, and instead seek help and support from strangers. Often, the distinction between inhibited and uninhibited RAD will not become clear until the child grows up
Step 3. Look for signs of behavior that indicate lack of self-control and aggression
Similar behavior can be mistaken for ADHD (attention deficit disorder). However, the following symptoms will be observed with RAD:
- Uncontrollable lies and theft
Indiscriminate desire to engage in communication with strangers and inappropriate and risky sexual behavior
It is important to note that these are not behavioral problems, as they may initially appear, but the result of abnormal brain development due to neglect and abuse in the first months and years of life
Step 4. Look at how your child is doing in school
When a toddler’s first developmental stage fails to bond with the caregiver, the brain - instead of focusing on the intellectual aspects of growth - begins to focus on developing skills and coping strategies. This explains why these children do poorly in school. The brain is unable to develop properly in all aspects. And as a consequence of this, learning problems arise.
This slow brain development explains why a child with RAD exhibits behaviors such as aggression, manipulation, uncontrollable lying, control, and withdrawal. This explains why these children are aggressive and poor at managing their anger. They resort to destructive behavior and do not even show any remorse for their behavior, because they simply do not know how to behave differently
Step 5. See how the child forms friendships
As the child grows, the child develops a keen sense of detachment and abandonment and also loses all the skills of trusting himself and others. This leads to his inability to make friends and build lasting relationships. Feelings of inferiority, feelings of unwantedness, and feelings of unworthiness of love and care, which began from the moment when his physical and emotional needs were ignored, continue to grow and affect his self-esteem. It is a huge, vicious circle that he cannot stop.
Since his self-esteem is very low, he does not understand why someone would be friends with him and behave as if no one needed him. This behavior alienates people from him and prevents him from making friends. To fill emptiness, loneliness, relieve depression and calm their nerves, such people often turn to alcohol and drugs
Step 6. Notice how aggressive the child is
These children are prone to controlling, manipulative and aggressive behavior. Their brains are constantly busy developing tactics and strategies for survival, so they lose the ability to learn how to resolve conflicts without fighting and use positive interactions in order to get what they want.
This child does not trust others and their intentions and believes that since it will not work out, the best way to get what he wants from others is to be aggressive, manipulative and resort to blackmail. They are not familiar with positive reinforcement behavior
Step 7. Look at how the child controls his impulses
The child will show symptoms of attention deficit disorder (ADHD), which indicates poor impulse control. He does not hesitate to do things that other children usually don’t do (or at least think seriously before doing it) and does not even think about the consequences of such behavior for him and for others.
Pay attention to inappropriate and risky sexual behavior. Children with RAD are sometimes promiscuous. They are attracted to sexual relationships with strangers, often several people at the same time
Step 8. Pay attention to the child's inability to make eye contact
A normal child makes eye contact from the first days of life. He learns this from his mother / guardian, who looks into his eyes, expressing their affection and love. Since no one has behaved with him the way they should, he does not understand the importance of maintaining eye contact, which gives him discomfort and leads to overexcitement.
All of this is intertwined with a lack of social skills and a tendency not to develop close relationships. Everything from their thoughts and words to little involuntary habits will indicate that people in their world are simply not trustworthy
Part 3 of 3: What is the disorder and what to do
Step 1. Understand the definition of RRS
Reactive attachment disorder occurs in infants and young children. It is characterized by ongoing and persistent disturbances in the child's social relationships, which are associated with emotional disturbances and changes in environmental conditions. Children with this disorder do not exhibit typical childhood stimulus responses. For example:
- They often respond to consolation with fear and hypervigilance.
- Children can often take an interest in peer interactions, but negative emotional reactions interfere with any form of social activity.
- Emotional disorder can be manifested by a lack of emotional reaction, a reaction of self-withdrawal or aggression in response to a negative event in which the child has become a participant or witness.
- An extreme form of unwillingness to accept or initiate close relationships or attachments, especially in problem situations, or excessive and indiscriminate attempts to obtain love and comfort from any adult, including strangers.
Step 2. Eliminate deep developmental disabilities
Since reactive attachment disorder is a response to the inappropriate environment in which a child develops, these children actually have the normal ability to display correct social responses, while children with profound developmental disabilities cannot.
- While abnormal patterns of social response are a key feature of reactive attachment disorder, these symptoms resolve if the child is in an environment where the caregiver consistently responds correctly to the child for a long time. Such improvements do not occur with developmental disabilities.
- Children with reactive attachment disorder may exhibit language impairment, but this does not mean that they exhibit abnormal communication characteristics as in autism.
- The responses of children with reactive attachment disorder to environmental changes and symptoms are not the result of persistent and severe cognitive impairments. In reactive attachment disorder, there are no persistent repetitive and stereotypical patterns of behavior / activity / interest (which can be observed in autism).
Step 3. Find out how the person caring for your child (caregiver, nanny, grandmother, etc.)
responded to his needs. A good understanding of how the caregiver responded as the child grew and developed is not required to diagnose reactive attachment disorder, but is recommended to help clinicians draw informed conclusions.
Reactive attachment disorder almost always occurs in response to extreme lack of childcare. It can arise from any of the following reasons, or a combination of them, if they were constant companions of the child's upbringing process: # ** Abrupt separation of the child from his caregiver, as a rule, from six months to three years
- Frequent change of caregivers
- The lack of response of the educator to the communication efforts of the child
- Severe forms of neglect and abuse
- Extremely inept parenting
- Constant disregard for the basic physical needs of the child.
Step 4. Know what can lead to RAD
It is true that children are generally resistant to any changes in conditions and environments. They have a rather flexible approach and will do their best to get used to the changed conditions and situations. However, the following situations can lead to RAD:
- If the child has lived in an orphanage or foster family for a significant period
- If the child grew up in a home that adhered to incredibly strict and strict principles and rules
- If he grew up away from his parents and other loved ones in dorms and boarding schools
- If the parents were too busy to take care of their child and he remained in the care of the caregivers
- If the child lived / grew / spent a significant time under the supervision of a caregiver who acted as the primary caregiver and with whom the child became very close, but with whom the child was then separated for various reasons
- If the child has witnessed many quarrels, fights and disputes between parents
- If the parents have had anger management problems, if they suffered from stress, depression, alcohol or drug abuse, or any other personality disorder
If there was physical, sexual, or emotional abuse in the family
Again, these are all hypothetical situations. It cannot be said with certainty that a child will develop RAD under these conditions
Step 5. Know what to do if you think your child has RAD
Keep in mind that knowing your child's parenting history is important to getting your child a correct diagnosis, and just because a child has experienced any combination of the above life situations does not mean they will have reactive attachment disorder. If your child has any of the above symptoms, it also does not mean that he or she suffers from this disorder.
Try your best not to jump to conclusions. If you are worried, take your child to a doctor, child and adolescent psychologist or pediatrician who can better inform you about the condition and provide an expert opinion based on clinical evidence. The child can start treatment and will soon be on the path to healthy, adaptive behavior
- RAD usually develops in children under 5 years of age and can continue into adolescence and adulthood.
- For reference, the symptoms and behavior of RAD are similar to other disorders common in children, such as autism, ADHD, anxiety disorders, social phobias, and PTSD. Be completely confident before making any diagnoses.