http://www.littleheartsbooks.com/2013/01/01/12-steps-to-gentle-parenting/ - 12 steps to gentle parenting
http://www.ahaparenting.com/ - Dr. Laura Markham’s website
http://greatparentingshow.com/replay.html - The great parenting show (interview with Dr. Laura Markham... great info!)
http://www.beyondconsequences.com/archive.html - This one has great Q & A's! Heather Forbes gives practical and genius advice that works. Read one article a day or week of hers, whatever works in your schedule. But you will definitely want to add this to your bookmarks and read every one of them.
http://www.beyondconsequences.com/ - This is where you can sign up to get Heather's daily reflections. They come to your email every day. Very short reminders that help you shift from parenting from a place of fear (which is prevalent in our culture) to parenting from a place of love.
http://empoweredtoconnect.org/what-every-adoptive-parent-should-know/ - These are short video snippets that Karen Purvis does. I've heard a whole 8 hour seminar from this woman and it changed everything about my parenting. Keith also listened to it and it helped us get on the same page. But these short video snippets will give you a glimpse of Karen Purvis and what she teaches.
http://empoweredtoconnect.org/resources/ - This is Karen Purvis's website and is full of great stuff.
http://www.postinstitute.com/ - Bryan Post was in foster care as a child and now has foster children. So not only does he have all the degrees, but he has the experience to help defiant and out of control children. His wife is also an expert in the field. They both really know what they’re talking about. Bryan also has some great, short, practical videos on youtube. On his website, click "store" and you will find the book, From Fear To Love. This is a book you will want to order and read over and over again! You’ll also want to click "free stuff" and download the book, How To End Lying Now. It really works! It makes so much sense, I can’t believe I didn’t see that what I was doing was making my kids lying worse!
http://bbryanpost.wordpress.com/ This is Bryan Post's blog.
All of these are free and you can read on your own time. You can also order their books or dvd's. To me these are some of the best therapists out there, they are free, and I can invite them into my home everyday if I want (through the computer). Sending our kids to a therapist one or two hours a week will not provide lasting change for them. It's the parents, their primary caretakers, who are with them 24/7 that need coaching and support so they can most effectively guide their children.
Each of these therapist came to my attention by different people at just the right time. I was initially seeking help with one of my daughters to help her through the trauma of her adoption. At that time, one of my sons was struggling through a difficult transition, and the traditional parenting method of shame/threats/punishments/consequences seemed only exacerbate the problem and push him further away. When I started seeing the wisdom in what these therapist were saying and how much in line with scripture it was, I started parenting all my children this way. Things didn't change over night, but day by day, little by little, it changed everything. It changed how I see negative behavior and how I respond to it, which changed how my children responded. It is so countercultural that it may sound ridiculous to you at first, but the gospel sounds that way too... love your enemy, turn the other cheek, bless those who curse you... I promise, this is powerful stuff. It's also great to have at least one friend that can walk alongside you through this. There is also a lot of support on their websites. You can chat with other parents going through some of the same things you are going through. Don't get overwhelmed by all this, just try to grab a moment here and there, or sit down with a cup of coffee and enjoy reading this stuff. Make it part of your routine, it will be worth it. It will slowly change the way you think and feel, which will affect your actions toward your children, which will have a ripple affect on your entire household. Your home will become a safe place, a peaceful place over time. Don't throw this out if you are not getting quick results... true, lasting change is a slow process, not a pill that will fix everything overnight.
Here's an article I got from Heather Forbes:
Reactive attachment disorder (RAD) is a mental health diagnosis listed in the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IVTR) under disorders usually first
diagnosed in infancy, childhood, or adolescence. RAD was initially introduced to the
mental health community some 20 years ago. Since that time, much of the information
regarding this disorder has painted a dismal and often dangerous picture of these children.
Books and articles have compared children with RAD to serial killers, rapists, and hard-
core criminals. Intensive and often physically aggressive therapies have been developed
to treat these children. Additionally, unconventional parenting techniques have been
taught to parents in order to control these children—children referred to as “disturbed” or
The main premise of RAD is that the child cannot socially connect or attach to others in
interpersonal relationships. Behaviors inhibiting attachment to caretakers are often
demonstrated by children diagnosed with RAD. Some of the behavioral symptoms
published in literature include the following: oppositional; frequent and intense anger
outbursts, manipulative or controlling; little or no conscience; destructive to self, others,
and property; cruelty to animals or killing animals; gorging or hoarding food; and
preoccupation with fire, blood, or violence.
Wow! Read that list again. Many of these behaviors sound downright frightening. It is
hard to imagine that a child can do these things. Yet, while these behaviors certainly
appear abnormal for anyone, especially a child, they are actually quite reasonable
reactions to the experiences these children have endured. Read on….
There are many life events that can cause attachment trauma between the primary
caretaker (usually the mother) and the child. These include an unwanted pregnancy,
separation from the birthmother due to adoption, death of a parent, premature birth,
inconsistent caretakers, abuse, neglect, chronic pain, long-term hospitalizations with
separations from the mother, and parental depression. Such life events interrupt a child’s
ability to learn to self-regulate through the relationship with the parent.
Typically, when a baby or small child is in a state of stress, he cries and the parent attends
to the child’s needs, whether by feeding, rocking, or simply holding him. Each and every
one of these interactions with the parent plays a critical part in assisting the development
of the child’s neuro-physiological control system—the system that allows the child to
return back to a calm state. It is truly through this parent-child relationship that we as
humans learn how to self-regulate in order to stay balanced and easily shift from a state
of stress back to a state of calm. This regulatory mechanism within us is not “online” at
birth, and brain research has shown that it takes up to thirty months before this part of the
brain is fully developed. Within this thirty-month timeframe, a well-attuned parent has
connected with this child to calm his stress response system thousands, if not millions, of
times. How critical these first thirty months are to a baby! It is through the parent-child
relationship that a child’s self-regulatory ability becomes engaged. This internal
regulatory system then sets the foundation for the child’s neurological, physical,
emotional, behavioral, cognitive, and social development.
When a child does not receive loving, nurturing care, the child’s ability to develop a
sufficient regulatory system is severely compromised. In cases of severe neglect and
abuse, the child’s life is literally at risk. For these children, their internal survival
mechanisms become activated, dedicating all the body’s resources to remain alert in
“survival mode.” These children perceive the world as threatening from a neurological,
physical, emotional, cognitive, and social perspective. These children operate from a
paradigm of fear to ensure their safety and security. Hence, we see an overly stressed-out
child who has difficulty interacting in relationships, who struggles to behave in a loving
way, who quite often cannot think clearly, and who swings back and forth in his
emotional states due to an underdeveloped regulatory system. While perceived by most
professionals as dangerous, a child with RAD is essentially a scared and stressed child
living out of a primal survival mode in order to maintain his existence.
With this understanding, the term “attachment-challenged” becomes more appropriate to
use with children instead of the traditional label of “RAD child.” In times of stress, this
child is challenged to connect and his ability to make connection is restricted. In fact, we
all become attachment-challenged to some degree when we’re stressed. Reflect for a
moment on the last time you were overly stressed: How did you react when someone
tried to interact with you? Be honest! Perhaps you had difficulty interacting
appropriately. Stress causes confused and distorted thinking, and it constricts us
emotionally, leaving little room for relationships. Thus, a child with a traumatic history
who is living in a stressful, fear-based state, simply is not capable of nor equipped to be
in a relationship. From a behavioral standpoint, a child living in a state of fear simply
cannot act in a loving way. The frightening behaviors listed above are only external
reflections of the internal fear and chaos within these children. They are simply behaviors
that are intended for survival.
Treatment for the attachment-challenged child needs to address this internal fear. When
the child’s stress state can be soothed, and the deep wounds driving the fearful behaviors
can be acknowledged, the child has an opportunity for healing. Yes, healing is possible,
but it takes intense work and many, many repetitions of positive experiences to
recondition the body’s reactions. It is also essential that the therapeutic attachment
techniques and parenting paradigms enlisted for these children be grounded in
neurological research and based in love and compassion. Such techniques can offer ways
to create peaceful environments within the home that work to recreate safety and security
in the insecure foundations set within these children.
A word of caution from the author: Some therapists specializing in attachment therapy
work from a fear-based platform and recommend techniques that are confrontational,
aggressive, child-centered instead of family-centered, and fear-based. While these
techniques sometimes offer short-term results, families using them are often faced with
more severe long-term pain and challenges. Many of these therapies and therapists have
separated themselves from dangerous techniques that have resulted in the tragic death of
children in the past; however, they continue to lack compassion and are grounded in fear.
Some examples of these techniques include instructing parents to force eye contact with
their children; have children do excessive chores to feel a part of the family system; send
children to respite care out of the home for making poor choices; give up their need to
communicate love to their children; and put locks on the outside of children’s doors to
keep them “safe.” When looking for appropriate interventions for families, be alert to
these specific techniques.
Be aware, as well, of techniques that talk in general about gaining control of a child and
viewing the child as manipulative. These techniques are child-blaming, parent-
controlling, and devoid of scientific research. It is counterproductive to feed more fear
into an already scared child. When seeking help, it is highly recommended that you have
a thorough understanding of the basis for each therapy being considered.
When parents first begin realizing that they are dealing with an attachment-challenged
child, they have likely already experienced many severe and disruptive behaviors in their
homes. In these experiences, they themselves often begin to slip into their own fear and
see the child as a threat (at times so threatening that they simply want the child out of
their home, forever). Because the behaviors can be so intense, it is easy to lose sight of
the child’s reality—that of a young person living in a world of pain, fear, and isolation.
Resources are available, and hope for these families is real. Suggested resources on the
1. Beyond Consequences Institute: www.beyondconsequences.com
2. Center for Victory: www.centerforvictory.com
3. Child Trauma Academy: www.childtrauma.org
4. Therapeutic Fairy Tales: http://foreverchild.net/
As a therapist specializing in working with attachment-challenged children, I am
overwhelmed by great sadness every time I initially speak with a parent seeking help for
their family. This sadness stems from the realization that all of these wounds and pain
could have been avoided. Babies are born in a spirit of love, but it is life’s circumstances
that shift them into a spirit of fear. All it takes to maintain this spirit of love is high
quality care giving; it takes an emotionally available parent to create a secure and loving
base for a child. Attachment Parenting in the formative years, from conception to three
years old, sets the foundation for all future relationships, and it gives the child’s body’s
own internal regulatory system the opportunity to develop to its fullest. The old adage,
“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” says everything in the context of
If you’re currently struggling with a child(ren) exhibiting symptoms of RAD who’s early
beginnings were far from nurturing and secure, I want to encourage you to have hope.
Several years ago, I found myself in the same situation, waking up every morning
wondering how I was going to make it through the day. In learning more about my
children and understanding that their behaviors were driven from a deeply wounded
place, I was able to parent them in a way that allowed healing to begin. Yes, it is hard
work and it takes endurance and faith, but creating a peaceful home is possible!
Heather T. Forbes, LCSW
Heather Forbes, LCSW, is the co-founder of the Beyond
Consequences Institute, LLC. Ms. Forbes has been training in the
field of trauma and attachment with nationally recognized, first-
generation attachment therapists since 1999. She has been active in
the field of adoption with experience ranging from pre-adoption to
post-adoption clinical work. Ms. Forbes is an internationally
published author, with her most recent book titled, Beyond
Consequences, Logic, and Control: A Love-based Approach for
Helping Attachment-Challenged Children With Severe Behaviors,
endorsed by Sir Richard Bowlby, son of John Bowlby. As a
speaker, her passion for families is known throughout the nation.
Ms. Forbes consults with and coaches families both nationally and internationally who
are struggling with children with severe behaviors. Much of her experience and insight on
understanding trauma, disruptive behaviors, and attachment-related issues has come from
her direct mothering experience with her two adopted children.
Also, some of Keith's and my favorite spiritual websites are: