Friday, October 5, 2012

Foster Parent Q&A: "How Do I Discipline a RAD Kid When Nothing Bothers Him?"

by John and Diane.

Q:  Dear Foster Parent Rescue : I have a RAD Foster child who is 8 years old. How do I discipline him for bad behavior when he shows no remorse for anything? Nothing I do seems to bother him. Time outs, taking away a toy or no-TV... nothing really seems to make an impression, and he just doesn’t seem to feel sorry for what he has done. Any suggestions?

First, read: Tantrums and Trust Disorders now, if that doesnt work, this would be the last resort.

Ok, a RAD child does not like doing anything that does not help him in some way.  Either making him feel good about himself, “I am King” or getting something he wants, material things.  So you have to make being good or doing the right thing either feel good or get him something he wants.  
 But you’re lucky, you are one thing he wants, or even needs. 
1.     He needs you to talk to and for you to listen to him.
2.     He needs you to play with him. I am sure he probably has very few friends, if any.
3.      He needs to be close to you; even sometimes just letting him in the same room with you makes him happy.
4.     He needs you to set the rules and to enforce them.  
So these are the things you have control over, I would hope.  So stop giving this to him for doing nothing.
Shunning for Behavioral Modification
 If your child is not listening to you and not following the rules of the house, then start to use shunning. This is a way to let him know you’re not happy with him.
Stop playing with him; take away the only friend he has.  This is best used when he makes your life hard by fighting with others in the house or by not cleaning up. Take the time away from him, to do the cleanup that he made for you.
Physical Closeness: this is hard on them.  You don’t even let them be in the same room with you.
Don’t let them be near you and you tell them why (“you upset me so much I can’t even look at or be in the same room with you, so you just stay away from me.”) This sometimes seems like it doesn’t do anything but it works directly on their emotions. This stops them from getting control back from you and it leaves them no way to get to you to manipulate you.    
The Pre Requisite  Special Time Together
 Now all this can only work if you have set time aside for him every day, where you and him are to be together, either playing a game or walking and talking or something that makes him feel special.  He must have plans with you in the future. Have short term plans such as a game night and long term plans such as a fishing trip or other special vacation.
You have to give him a reason to be good or to listen to you when you talk.   He has to feel he has something with you that he can lose.   If he does not have anything to lose from you then why would he care to do anything for you?  In his mind he thinks you’re a liar or you are just trying to trick him.  
Now, you would think that taking the TV or games away from him would do that, but he really doesn’t care about them.    
He needs control of his life and if he is not in control, he does not feel safe.
In his mind, he thinks he has to be the boss and every one should listen to him, he thinks he is always right and you are always wrong, and this makes him feel safe as long as its unchallenged. 
You make him feel insecure by stopping the closeness and or by the shunning and he needs to get near you again to feel safe again. That means he need you to feel safe again and this is something all the RAD kids need.   So if you make yourself the safe place for him to go, then you can control him and he starts to care about you.   A win-win deal.
Good luck.

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  1. I question the approach of further breaking an attachment when the whole problem with RAD is attachment disorder. You're making the child feel even less safe. That's typically not the best motivator for a child that is craving safety. They don't understand - due to the brain damage of RAD - that utilizing the adult for said safety is how to "fix" things. Instead, they will begin to rely on themselves even more which in turn will intensify the RAD behaviors.

    1. Hi Cherubmama, thanks for your comment. First of all, this is a short term thing.. it doesnt go on for days, its hours at the most. So, thank you, I should clarify that. Safety and security is the foundation stone for the child, as it is for all of us, and if you have not built that up yet (See Tantrums and Trust Disorders) you should go back to Jesus Mode and work on that first, because the child needs to Want to be close to you for this to work.
      John and Diane FPR

  2. Thank you! Finding this was exactly what I needed to know that I was responding appropriately to the major meltdowns. <3