Amazing Parents

Sometimes it\’s AMAZING. Sometimes it\’s just A MAZE.


Q. What is attachment?

A. Attachment refers to an affectionate tie between two people. Attachment is the child’s portion of the parent/child relationship.

Q. Why is attachment so important during infancy?

A. This bond between mother and infant is directly related to how the child will form relationships throughout his entire life — relationships with objects, other people, himself, with humanity, really the universe in general. It is through that basic attachment that children learn about regulation. If children do not learn to regulate themselves early on, they will struggle to learn it through out life.

Q. What is regluation?

A. Regulation is the term used to describe the management of stress and emotions. When you are calm and peaceful and generally feeling ok, you are regulated.

Q. What is dysregulation?

A. Dysregulation is a state of stress, overwhelm, or pain that is out of one’s ability to tolerate. Negative behaviors arise from this state. The absolute fundamental cause of dysregulation is fear.

Q. How does regulation/dysregulation affect attachment?

A. Just like a valve on a propane tank is designed to let out only a specific amount of gas at a given moment, humans have emotional regulators that help us control ourselves during times of stress. In children with attachment challenges, these regulators are either faulty or missing entirely; thus they are less likely to be able to handle any amount of stress in their environment, including the normal stress experienced within relationships. Therefore, it is imperative that parents learn to remain regulated during times of stress within the parent/child relationship. Because it is through the parents’ ability to model self-regulation, that our children will learn it for themselves. The good news is that regulation can be taught at any stage in life and from that time on can function as required.

Q. What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

A. Otherwise known as RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder is the condition in which individuals have difficulty forming lasting relationships. Because attachment exists along a continuum, a person with RAD is commonly referred to as “attachment-challenged”.

Q. What are the signs and symptoms of an existing attachment challenge in children?

A. Superficially charming & engaging; Lack of eye contact on parents’ terms; Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers; Not affectionate on parents’ terms; Destructive to self, others, and material things; Cruelty to animals; Lying about the obvious; Stealing; No impulse control; Learning lags; Lack of cause & effect thinking; Lack of conscience; Abnormal eating patterns; Poor peer relationships; Preoccupation with fire, blood, gore; Persistent nonsense questions and chatter; Tantrums; Inappropriately demanding and clingy; Abnormal speech patterns; Triangulation of adults; False allegations of abuse; Presumptive entitlement issues; Parents appear angry & hostile

Q. What kind of treatment is used with attachment-challenged children?

A. Some “experts” believe that “RAD kids” typically fail to develop a conscience and do not learn to trust. They believe that these children do not allow anyone else to make decisions for them or to be in control of them under any circumstances. They insist that RAD kids are manipulative, angry, sociopaths, and unable to heal completely. These experts believe that RAD kids trust no one and are unable to ever truly do so. Their prescribed treatment methods are often fear-based, controlling, and scary. These treatment methods are ineffective in the long run because they focus solely on the maintenance of the behaviors and do not speak to the underlying cause of these behaviors.

Example of a fear-based treatment option:

* Theraputic Parenting: a parenting style that provides extremely tight structure, while presenting the structure in a very loving environment; often refered to as the “steel box with velvet lining”

Other experts, however, believe that children with attachment challenges are longing for trust and are reaching out for help to self-regulate. This school of thought recognizes that all negative behaviors are fear-based (not simply manipulative or a lack of conscience) and therefore, do not require punishment, only love and acceptance.

Possible treatment avenues that have been proven effective in HEALING attachment challenges:

* Family Stress Model: a parenting paradigm that is based on the premise that there are only two primary emotions: love and fear. Therefore, all negative behaviors are fear-based, which do not require a consequence for correction, but instead the building of a safe environment where parents are FIRST able to regulate themselves and ultimately provide unconditional love and total acceptance of who the child is and where the child is on his journey towards healing.

* Attachment Therapy: a form of psychotherapy that uses the parents as the healing agents; NOT traditional talk therapy; therapist guides the parents in various attachment-building exercises

* Nuerological Training: a series of daily exercises including creeping, hand cross overs, and jumping that help rewire the missing connections that were lacking as the infant developed without the proper stimulation

All children are different. All families are different. Therefore these treatments all vary in effectiveness.

However, in my experience, when used together, in a loving environment, children heal. Period.

There is hope.



  1. I just came from a Neurological Development lecture that presented the answer for RAD and sensory integration/processing issues, as well as a multitude of other problems, was a set of specific exercises that resulted in brain neurological “reassignment” and growth. This program should be the FIRST step taken after diagnosis, since it can provide the neurological foundation upon which the other therapies/parenting styles can then build upon. Without physiological changes in the brain, the other therapies don’t effectively address or correct the core problem and are just teaching how to accommodate for and cope with these disorders.

    Has anyone out there done this program at home and seen concrete results? Could I communicate with you in any way to ask more questions?

    Thank you.

    Comment by Cindy Hoch | May 21, 2007 | Reply

  2. This may be about a year too late on the reply, but if you are interested, there is a yahoo group called NeuroNetwork, which was founded by a fellow Oregonian. The members of that group really, really know their stuff. Here’s the link:

    Hope that helps.

    Comment by amazingparents | April 7, 2008 | Reply

  3. I just found your blog tonight and have been reading through some of it. Some of what you write is amazing. I’m a 23 yr. old lesbian with RAD. I’ve always felt like something was wrong but it was only till about a year or two ago that I realized what it was. I would love to talk to you about just things in general. So much of what I read about RAD both clinical and personal experiences from people scares me. I am so extreme in some areas and other’s i don’t even have hints of. I know every case is different, but your understanding of this seems…. very grounded? I think that’s what I’m trying to same. Like i don’t know… it kind of gives me hope that i’m not totally insane. Anyways sorry for rambling please email me if you can.


    Comment by Ashley | July 30, 2008 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: