RAD kids or children with trust, attachment or trauma disorders, tantrum or “go off” in two different ways. Some are extroverted: meaning they direct their anger outwards- towards You (lucky you…) calling you names, breaking your stuff etc, while others are introverted, meaning they try to get away from the problem. They may still have words for you, but most of the time they are muttered under their breath as they head towards their safe place, usually their bedroom.
Although it may seem that this type of child is easier to deal with, no outward explosion , they are really more difficult, because they are hiding, both their feelings and their physical selves from you, so you cannot work out their issues with them. They simply shut down. The harder you push on them or try to force them to do something, the more closed off they get.
I have had a lot of success getting these type of RAD kids to open up (with time and God’s help) by using a Fall Back approach.
When your child is closing him or herself off in their room, I use a couple of tricks to help bond, build trust and bring them out.
First, I stay lower than the child. That means I am on the floor most of the time when I am trying to talk to them, but only do this if you feel safe to do so. I may not even make eye contact when I am talking to them. I always using a low voice and low voice tones. I do a lot of blaming myself for what happened using words like, “I should have known better…. Its not your fault…” I call this the Fall Back Technique.
Basically the Fall Back Technique is this: I am always the one who is wrong, and I tell them why (which is sometimes comically difficult, so you better be creative.) For example, you might say, “I should have known better, I know you have this problem, I should never have done this or I should have stopped you from doing that, I am sorry.” This way you take the pressure off the child. You remain present with them in the room and their mind begins to work and they start to open up.
Now they let you ask questions, like, “So, if this happens again, what can I do to help you?” or “ “How come that made you so mad, I am sorry, but what happened, tell me so I don’t do it again…”
By taking this Fall Back position you make the child feel like they are helping YOU by expressing how they are feeling and what they were thinking when they were having their issue. This way it doesn’t feel like you are pushing them but they are Teaching you about who they are. Even if they are misleading you or saying things that are not entirely true, they are still giving you clues about how they really feel. This is all information you can use later on when your bond is stronger and they are more ready to face their truth. (A subject for another time.)
Don’t get confused. You are taking a lower position, but the child will not think you are weak. Once the episode is over, you go back to enforcing your house rules and maintaining the control over your home as you did before. This is a gentle moment to help your RAD child open up, an embrace of sorts that helps build the foundation for the future.