“Why Am I Feeling Crazy?”: The Life of RAD Parenting” #NavRAD22

I’m in Atlanta at the Navigating RAD 22 conference with RAD Advocates this weekend. For those of you who couldn’t make it, this is your place for the highlights from the amazing speakers!

“Why am I feeling crazy?”: The Life of RAD Parenting

Forrest Lien of Lifespan Trauma Consulting

Highlights & Takeaways

  • To understand RAD we need to understand Erik Erikson’s attachment cycle theory. Kids with RAD have disrupted development prior to the age of 3 and their need to survive is locked in. Our RAD kids are locked in an arousal state because they learn at a young age from abuse and/or neglect that that creates more safety for them than dissociation (neglect often can be more profound than physical abuse).
  • Bonded kids want to please you, but RAD kids don’t have that connection with you, so lying and stealing become part of their toolbox for control. “Lying and stealing” is a developmental delay in the attachment.
  • Traditional residential treatment programs don’t make kids with RAD “family kids.” When behavior modification is the model, kids are following the rules for rewards not in order to go home. Those facilities are staffed with newbie social workers and therapists and our children are exposed to other kids with similar behaviors and issues.
  • Can we “fix” a kid with RAD? It depends on how severe It is and how empty they are.
  • We can’t treat the RAD unless we treat the mental illness first (such as bipolar and mood disorders).
  • There is no pill that is going to fix RAD. Medications can regulate the brain—make kids more clear in their thinking and calm—and we can treat them. Unfortunately, it sometimes creates a more clear thinking and calm RAD kid.
  • If kids with RAD don’t want to learn, they’re not going to. Parents shouldn’t work harder than their kids on their life.
  • The cuter and smarter the RAD kid, the harder they are to treat. These children can be very sophisticated in grooming the adults around them.
  • Here’s how moms of kids with RAD get PTSD: repeated rejections from the RAD kid, relentless control battles, losing your friends/spouse, becoming isolated without support.
  • Dads need to believe their spouse. This doesn’t mean that moms don’t sometimes respond badly, but that needs to be put in context. RAD kids can make moms crazy.

I’m so thankful for Forrest, one of the few professionals who really “gets it” and is supporting and advocating for our families.

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Forrest Lien, LCSW, Lifespan Trauma Consulting founder/owner

Over his career, Forrest has avidly shared his expertise to advance the field of trauma. He has consulted with 20/20, HBO, and The Today Show and has presented at over 300 workshops internationally on the effects of early trauma including at the Mayo Clinic.

As founder and owner of Lifespan Trauma Consulting, Forrest continues his legacy of highly sought-after training, program development, and advocacy for families and their children with reactive attachment disorder.

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