Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children

Reactive Attachment Disorder in Children

When children are unable to form normal attachments to parents or guardians, they develop Reactive Attachment Disorder. If your child fails to form an attachment, it is a symptom that cannot be ignored. Such a problem needs serious consideration, and it needs to be resolved during early childhood, or else it could lead to conflicts later in life. This disorder can severely affect how the child deals with other people when he grows up.

It is important to understand that normal parenting and parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder are very different. When this disorder is not properly managed, it can impair the growth of the child as well as his ability to express himself emotionally and to form relationships. Children with RAD typically have very low level of emotional intelligence (EQ).

Understanding children with RAD or Reactive Attachment Disorder, helps us learn more about the human brain. It is known for a fact that 80% of the development of the brain occurs in the first three years of life. RAD is a result of neglecting a child’s basic emotional and physical needs, especially as an infant. Early detection can help the child adopt and mitigate the symptoms later in life.

Causes of Reactive Attachment Disorder

The neglect or abuse of an infant’s needs causes Reactive Attachment Disorder. As a child, the basic needs are:

  • Emotional bonds with the parents or caretakers.
  • Physical safety.
  • Food.
  • Loving touch

RAD often develops if parents are frequently absent (physically or emotionally) during child’s early years or the caretaker (e.g. live-in nanny) is changed frequently.

Symptoms of RAD

You can observe the following symptoms of RAD in children:

  • Avoids being with the parent or guardian.
  • Avoids being with the caretaker.
  • Cannot be comforted easily.
  • Seeks attention by socializing with strangers.
  • Prefers being alone and avoids social interactions.

Tests and Treatment

The complete history of the child is required to help diagnose RAD. Diagnostic process typically involves physical evaluation and psychiatric evaluation.

The first part of the treatment is to ensure that the child gets a safe environment where all his physical as well as emotional needs are met. After this, relationship between the caregiver/parent and the child needs to be established (or re-established). Parenting skill classes can also be helpful in this situation. In parenting class, parents can learn about the requirements of children and can cater to their needs. The current problems can be solved by counseling the parents. The treatment plan can be evaluated with the help of a complete mental health evaluation of the child.

Contacting a Medical Professional

Normally, RAD occurs when a parent neglects physical and psychological needs of the child or when adoptive parent has problems coping with the adopted child.

How can Reactive Attachment Disorder be prevented?

Recognition of the disease at an early level is very important for the child. Parenting skills must be taught to parents who are at a high risk of neglecting their children. In such cases, help can be sought from medical professionals or doctors or even social workers to ensure that the needs of the child are met.

A child suffering with Reactive Attachment Disorder does not distrust adults willingly, and it is not intentional. While caring for a child, there are certain things that you need in order to take care of the child and to help make situations easier for the child. The key is to be tolerant and have realistic expectations from your child. The treatment does not work overnight, and the changes do not occur in a short span of time. Nevertheless the good news is that most parents notice a clear change within the first 10 sessions of the treatment. The brain can be healed, and relationships can also be repaired. Dedicated parents can form a strong support system for children who are facing Reactive Attachment Disorder. If you are a guardian, parent, or caregiver, taking care of the child is extremely difficult, but it is important to understand that it is even difficult for children who have reactive attachment disorder. Stay aware of the early symptoms of RAD and try to look for immediate treatment.