What is RAD?Reactive attachment disorder is a disorder of the brain. Children don’t form the typical healthy emotional bonds with their parents and other caregivers. It can be caused by emotional neglect and abuse that happens during the early formative years of life. Children with RAD may have difficulties managing their motions. They may also avoid physical touch and may also avoid comfort when they’re hurt or upset. There may also be frequent outbursts of anger, tantrums, and sadness that could signify depression. Fearing a lack of control over their environment and others, children with RAD may come across as manipulative or controlling.
What can you do?RAD can take a toll on sibling relationships. It can take a significant amount of work by the non-RAD sibling to build and maintain the relationship. Children with RAD often abuse their brothers or sisters. Whether emotional or physical, this abuse can splinter the sibling relationship and make it difficult to trust and possibly even love your sibling. Here are a few things that you can do and also keep in mind.
- It’s okay if you don’t always like your sibling. It can make you feel guilty, and this is understandable. Your sibling likely takes up much of your parent’s time and attention. They may not always be kind to you. Most of us wouldn’t like our bullies.
- Work with your parents to develop a safety plan for you, your sibling with RAD, and other family members. This safety plan can prove helpful if your sibling has an angry outburst that threatens you, them or someone else's safety.
- Educate yourself on what RAD is, how it is caused, and how it can impact the person with it and everyone who loves them. The more you know, the better help you can give to your brother.
- Learn what your sibling enjoys doing, whether playing video games or riding bikes, and join them. These little moments of togetherness will help you to connect with your sibling. They may not be overly affectionate or laugh much, but you may be surprised at how much you both enjoy this time together.
- Let your sibling know that you will always be there for them. Whether they need someone to talk to, someone just to keep them company, or perhaps help with schoolwork. Knowing they have someone they can confide in and rely on will help your sibling immensely.
- If you go to the same school as your sibling, ask how you can help them at school. Knowing that they can rely on you can also be helpful if they are being bullied, struggling with anxiety, or having issues with teachers or coaches.