Teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Parenting Tips for Teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is caused by a disturbance in the bonding process between a child and the parent in the first stages of life.

Within the first five years of life, children require a satisfying and healthy relationship with a consistent caregiver to encourage good brain development. While many cases of RAD occur from abuse, frequent separation, or neglect from the primary caretaker, it can also be induced through adoption.

Reactive attachment disorder is marked by an inability to build strong relationship bonds or emotional attachment. Additional traits include antisocial conduct, violent tendencies, generalized personality problems, and an absence of shame or guilt.

This tendency can develop into behavior disorders, substance misuse, family issues, and academic challenges without assistance. While there is no cure for RAD, through counseling and early intervention, a parent can help their teen with this illness learn to control their symptoms and lead happy and productive lives.

Teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Tips for Raising a Teen with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Below are some tips for parents raising teens with reactive attachment disorder:

Participate actively in your teen’s treatment: The outcome of a therapeutic plan of care is heavily influenced by the support of the family unit. Know what goals your kid is setting and what they are working on so you can assist them in staying on track throughout the day.

Make a predictable routine: One of the keys to success with RAD children is consistency. Make a homework, recreation, dinner, and bedtime schedule. Setting and keeping a regular schedule will help your child feel in control.

Connect with your teen: Because learning to handle RAD entails a lot of challenging and correcting your teen, find time to engage with them in a more relaxed manner. Participate in things that you both like, or better yet, involve the entire family.

Look after yourself: Managing a teen with RAD can be tiring, and you must stay on top of things to help them succeed. Make every effort to ensure that you receive enough exercise, create healthy eating habits, and can relax and do something for yourself.

Discipline regularly: You will be in control of generating high-value consequences for your teen until they learn to self-correct. Discuss with them and their therapist what form of discipline motivates them the most, and once you’ve established the ground rules, stick to them to help develop a predictable and trusting relationship. Your RAD teen may frequently put you to the test to see if your disciplinary parameters vary, which might make you feel uneasy.

Try paying attention: If your teen is ready to open up and communicate, be prepared to listen and acknowledge what they have to say. It may happen when you least expect it.

Create a support system: No parent should have to deal with this independently. Apart from the help and support of friends and family, there are resources in your community and at your child’s school that can help you stay afloat while assisting your child.

Disciplining a Teen with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Below are five strategies to discipline a child with reactive attachment disorder:

Focus on Safety

Parenting a child who suffers from reactive attachment disorder might feel like a never-ending series of crises. Teens with RAD engage in risky behaviors such as self-harm, setting fires, and other dangerous activities.

Ask yourself if everyone is safe when responding to such a child. If you answered yes, you now have time to plan. For instance, if your teen is screaming at the top of their lungs, but no one is hurt, that can wait.

Allow yourself time to recover and demonstrate to your child that you will not join them in their distress.

Be Patient

 You probably already have much patience if you have a child with reactive attachment disorder. This is excellent news since patience will be required in every part of the discipline.

Children who have experienced trauma must be provided the exact instructions repeatedly. They are prone to acting rashly and impatiently. While this is unpleasant, it is the way their brain works.

Patience is your superpower. Grow that power and utilize it on yourself as well as your child.

Before Misconduct, Decide on the Punishments

Attachment disordered youngsters will repeat the same misbehavior over and over. This is both a source of annoyance and a source of predictability.

If your child refuses to put their bag away every time you ask, you have a chance to strategize. Let’s assume that noncompliance at home results in the loss of electronics. Then you and your child will realize that refusing to put the bag away means there will be no television.

Instead of thinking about a consequence at the moment, the technique will help you be prepared to act on it. It will also provide a predictable punishment for misbehaving for your youngster.

Seek out Patterns

Although children with RAD exhibit excessive reactions, they also have similar fear responses. Fear and uncertainty are common responses among children from challenging backgrounds to the world around them.

Most of the time, the conduct you see is founded on distrust and is the child’s attempt to regain control. You might begin to see the trend after considering what generally disturbs your youngster.

Your RAD child, for example, may flee and hide. This is dangerous and extreme behavior. It’s also exhausting to chase your child down the street or look for them in the store.

Consider what happened before they ran when you are not in the middle of searching for your missing child. 

A typical fear response is to flee. The youngster may not be able to express their fear verbally, but they are letting you know by their actions.

They flee from things they are afraid of. You may not understand what makes the grocery store so frightening, but if you consider what happened before the behavior, you may be able to spot a trend.

Self-Care is Key

Recognize that you will make mistakes from time to time. Parenting a child with RAD is complex, and you will make mistakes. Allow yourself time to process what happened, analyze whether you chose the best discipline technique, and then try again.

Do things for you.  Perhaps this entails establishing a healthy routine or scheduling time to go for a stroll. Whatever it is, you must commit.

Teens with Reactive Attachment Disorder


Parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder can be challenging. But with the tips discussed in this article, we hope you will have an easy time with your child. Also, with the five strategies to discipline a child with reactive attachment disorder, we hope that modifying your child’s behavior will be possible.