My Adopted Teen is Struggling With RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder)

Children who have been through the foster care system often have attachment issues. These attachment disorders are primarily due to the emotional trauma the foster care system has on the child. These children often have a Reactive Attachment Disorder and have severe trouble managing their emotions. These teenagers find it difficult to establish proper connections with people.

Teenagers with RAD rarely seek help or comfort from anyone and often try to handle things independently. They are afraid or uneasy around their custodian, even when caring for them.

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)?

When a child lacks healthy attachments or relationships with parents, it may lead to a severe and rare condition. This rare condition is known as Reactive Attachment Disorder, and it develops when a child lacks essential comfort from a primary caregiver. Also, the condition may develop when a child lack love, care, and stable attachments with other people.

RAD is a rare emotional dysfunction condition where a child cannot form a bond with its caregivers. Again, RAD is primarily due to early neglect of the child from a young age.

Causes of Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)

Young children need a loving, caring, and stable environment to develop trust and feel safe. When the caregiver does not meet a child’s emotional and physical needs, it often leads to a lack of care and comfort. Also, children that spend time in foster care often develop RAD due to emotional trauma.

Symptoms of RAD in Adopted Teenagers to Watch Out For

Contrary to some people’s beliefs, symptoms of RAD do not develop during the teenage years. The symptoms develop in children below the age of 5. Some of the symptoms of RAD in adopted teenagers are listed below:

  1. Teenagers with RAD often show a persistent pattern of emotionally withdrawn behavior. Children with RAD show signs of fear and social and emotional withdrawal. These children do not respond to any comfort from anybody, including their custodians.

  2. These teenagers have little to no responsiveness to the people around them. They have unexplained sadness, irritability, and fear during interactions with their custodians. These teens are always socially awkward and often have emotional problems.

  3. RAD teenagers have little to no interest in any interactive games with others.

  4. Children with RAD are often hypervigilant; however, they fail to respond to stimuli.

How to Parent an Adoptive Teen with RAD

As a parent, it is not an easy job to remain solid and stable in the lives of the Teen. Parenting an adoptive teen is quite tasking. There is nothing more painful to a parent than their child’s rejection. Parents of RAD teenagers have to exercise self-control and patience. This self-control will help the parents make the right choices when their teen is impulsive. Therapy and a safe environment, where your son can get the help he needs, are vital to his development.

Rules To Implement In the Home as a Parent with a RAD Teen

  1. Do not hesitate to own up to your mistakes.

  2. Always mend your relationship with your ward after any conflict.

  3. Create a reasonable and predictable schedule in the house.

  4. Do not control; instead, take charge and remain calm when the teenager is misbehaving.

Prevention of Reactive Attachment Disorder

Prevention of RAD is not always possible. However, there are some ways to reduce its development. Some parenting suggestions are:

  1. Parents should be actively and happily involved with their teenagers by smiling and communicating with them.

  2. Pay attention to your child and learn how to decipher the child’s cues to meet the child’s needs.

  3. Always provide a safe space for your child and build positive interactions.

Final Thoughts

Parents with adoptive teenagers struggling with RAD need to exercise patience when communicating with the child. As a parent, understand that RAD teens tend to be impulsive and act younger than their age. Treat the child with love, always listen to them, and own up to your mistakes when you make one. This helps build trust.

You may need professional help or consider a boarding school where your teen can get the help he needs to develop into a well-functioning adult.

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