For those of you with children that may have Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) or other attachment issues, you can understand the disruption it causes in your family. The sheer exhaustion of it all.
Many times I am overwhelmed by the reaction that my child has sometimes. And nothing seems to work. However, after so many of you recommended it, I finally began reading The Connected Child: Bring hope and healing to your adoptive familyby Dr. Karyn Purvis of TCU. (Read about Feeling Hopeless from Chapter 1. Are you reading along?)
Chapter 2 of The Connected Child is “Where Your Child Began” and describes all the sensory input your adopted child may have missed to be able to form normal attachments in life. Chapter 2 of the companion study guide, Created to Connect, focuses on feeling compassion for your child. I do feel compassion for my child – I love him – but sometimes when he turns into possessed devil-child, I just want to lay down the strict law to get his little butt to straighten up!
However, there was one small sentence in the book that hit me: “Your job, as parents, is to help these children get what they missed…” Then the study guide expanded on this concept about “Returning to the Beginning” discussing how children may actually be required to “go backwards” in order to move forward. When I read the illustration about the older adoptee wanting hot tea with her mom many times a day and her mom’s comparison to bottles and sippy cups, it struck a chord with me.
Although we received our child as an 8-month-old foster baby, do we need to somehow go backward and makeup for those first 8 months of neglect?
One night, our child had another horrible episode. He wanted to go outside and play football but was refusing to eat supper. He even attempted to throw his plate across the room. FosterDad was clearly in discipline mode. I intervened with another approach.
As I scooped my little one up in my lap, he first fought me, but in a soft baby-toned voice, I began saying: “Oh! My little baby needs to eat supper, but this food is for big kids. Let’s mash this up and put a bib on this baby! Oh, here’s a bite. Open wide, baby…”
Would you believe, he began playing like he was a baby and anxiously took bite after bite until he was done? Then he got down and went outside to throw the football with Daddy.
Whoa! Crazy, huh? But it worked!
Then the next night again, he was throwing a fit about wanting some candy, but we had Pediasure for him to drink. I picked up the squirt bottle it was in, acting like it was a bottle, and put my child in my lap in the rocking chair. “Oh, look at this baby needing his bottle!” He drank it quickly and the evening went well after all that drama.
This is nuts! But it’s working!
Now, I don’t want my child ruling the roost, so to speak, but by “going backwards”, he is getting something that he missed, and we, as parents, are getting him to mind (in a weird kind of way). Is this approach the right approach? Who knows?
There will be someone that will criticize me for “giving in” to his fits, but it’s working right now for our family right now.
Hopefully, I won’t be picking him up and treating him like a baby when he’s a teenager – THAT would be awkward!