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RAD: Spotting it in Toddlers

infants and toddlers Nov 06, 2022
two children playing with blocks

Time Does Not Heal

My great grandson, Lincoln, is here! It is so awesome to see what an attached toddler does. So many families I have worked with thought their child would grow out of the behaviors. They waited! They call me when their child is 9 years old or older and they are exhausted, stressed, and their child is now set in their ways.

Time doesn’t heal, it conceals. The big feelings of unresolved trauma fester inside a child and cause mini meltdowns, and eventually major meltdowns. I see Lincoln get frustrated and fuss for a minute or two, than rebound and move on. An attachment disorder toddler in the same situation would be on the floor tantruming for 20 minutes, forty-five, or even an hour until they exhaust themselves, unable to self regulate.


Independence in Toddlers

My great grandson stays close to his awesome mom, not clingy and fearful, but bonded. I have seen many trauma-based toddlers who walk away from their parents, keep going, and don’t look back. People say these toddlers are “independent.” There is no such thing as an independent toddler that is emotionally healthy. How long could an independent toddler survive alone? Maybe one day, maybe two? By nature and out of necessity, they are very dependent until close to 5 years of age.

When  Lincoln, who is 18-month-old, gets stressed, overwhelmed, or a little tired, he reaches for his mom. As a loving, responsive mom, Emma lifts him and instinctively holds his heart to hers. I see a calmness wash over him as he wraps his chubby arms around her neck. My favorite thing is when he puts his little hands on his mom’s cheeks and puts his forehead on hers to be closer and lock eyes. She smiles and he reciprocates, not just with his mouth but with his eyes. He fills up for a bit, close to this power source of a heart and, recharged, he is ready to go back to exploring the world and learning.


High Risk Sign of Attachment Problems

Because of his attachment Lincoln has a gentle heart and isn’t destructive at all. He is so gentle; he hugs our horse, Calypso, laying his warm cheek on Calypso’s knee. Preschoolers with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) are aggressive toward other children and animals. They don’t look for their mom. Wandering off is a problem because, they don’t follow. Parents get pooped trying to get them to follow instructions and they ignore verbal commands. They get very upset when parents set verbal limits. Often they are fearless and danger seeking with no concern for right or wrong, OR they are overly fearful, shy, and withdrawn.

When I first met Lincoln, he kind of eyed me and stayed close to mom while he observed me. It was a while before he approached me and leaned on my knee. Now, after a week, he is comfortable with me, but clearly prefers his mother, which is what he should do.  Children with RAD of this age are overly friendly and actually prefer strangers to their mothers. They would willingly go off with a complete stranger, never look back for their mother, and when she returns, show little to no interest in her. Where Lincoln cuddles in, those that have been so hurt, their hearts separated from their parents, shun affection from their parents and refuse comfort. They get stiff and lean away. When mom or dad picks up a healthy toddler, they wrap their arms around and hold. An emotionally disturbed toddler will put their hands on mom’s chest to push out, and prefer to face away.  Often they are hyperactive with all kinds of sleeping and eating problems. Parents are frequently exhausted with the continual, unending defiance!


Hearts Can Heal

The exciting news is that shattered hearts can heal. As that happens, they begin to reach and fill with the only medicine that will heal their heart – mom’s love. When we don’t have the tools, they continually get sicker, farther away from us, and more isolated in their pathology year after year, until the violence gets so overwhelming that costly professional help is necessary. The easiest time to help them heal is BEFORE they are 5 years old! Brain growth and development goes at mach 1 before that time! It changes at about 5 and we have to use a different program to help them and it takes longer.

My quest is to stop the violence in the United States. Older children take months or years to heal. With little ones, it’s weeks. There is help. There is hope. Healing can happen.


Online Course Available

We have an online toddler course with all the tools and information to heal the broken heart of a struggling toddler and connect them to the hearts that love them.

In honor of my Great Grandson the full 6 week course, Heart Link for Toddlers, is on sale, only to my readers! Use the code LINCOLN at check out and the normal investment of $1200 is only $899. That way you save over 25%! You will save a bundle on therapy bills later!!


Photo by cottonbro studio

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