shiftThink about looking down a dark alley or into an unfamiliar space where you can't see all the way into the corners of the room. Think about your last job interview. Think about your first day of school. Your first date. A trip to the doctor when you don't quite know what's wrong with you.

All these things evoke fear.

We are wired to be frightened of things unknown. Many thousands of years this was infused into our being to ensure we didn't get eaten by some much larger critter.

We all know what it feels like to fear something we are unsure of.

Now spend a little bit imagining what it would be like to be a little kid from a traumatic background. You have no control over your life. You might have a father who does drugs - perhaps he smacks your mother around while you watch or listen. Perhaps your mother isn't reliable either - she doesn't feed you regularly and perhaps has lots of different men over to your home. Possibly you get hit for no real good reason like spilling a little milk or having an accident. Maybe your parent just don't pay any attention to you at all, leaving you at home alone and you never really know when they are going to come home.

From Fear to Love - Parenting Difficult Adopted Children

B. Bryan Post

A few weeks back, I wrote a review on "The Great Behavior Breakdown". The Post Institute sent a second book for me to look at called "From Fear To Love". My previous post covered each of the chapters and what was discussed in those chapters. This post will be a little different.

Seasons of Lights

chatfield lightsAny kind of activity you can engage in that brings you closer to your child is excellent when dealing with the Child of Trauma. Walking in the out of doors is always a good way to spend quiet contemplative time with a kid and allow you to talk or not talk as the case may be. It allows you to be present and often just being present is what a fostadopt child needs.

The average "normal" parent in the United States spends just 10 minutes of quality time with his or her child per day. The benefits of spending much more time than that builds trust, helps a child regulate, and brings parents and children closer to relationship.

Spend the time to love your children, it will make a world of difference in how they relate to you and to others.

In Metro Denver, you could go for a walk at the Botanic Gardens near Chatfield and just enjoy the lights, taking the opportunity to just "be".

Activities and Bonding

Seemingly small actions can have a huge effect on your relationship with your child. Special events can help play into these small actions. When ever you possibly can, take time to do things with your child. If you're a guy and you don't like to play with Barbies, perhaps you could colour a picture with your little girl.

Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control

Heather T. Forbes
B. Bryan Post

Heather Forbes and Bryan Post look at the behaviours of Children of Trauma with a complete twist. A child who has been abused or neglected doesn't act out of anger or hate (the prevailing view) but out of fear. The posit that there are only two base emotions that of Love and Fear. With enough unconditional love (which brings peace and joy), the Child of Trauma can be slowly healed.

The book is an easy read with lots of examples that parents who have children with Attachment Issues will easily relate to.


Climbers and outdoorsmen will tell you that fear is the killer when you are in a dangerous situation. Yoda said, "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."

Bryan Post would say that all bad behaviours in our Children of Trauma are based in fear. Fear that was brought on by early childhood trauma whether that trauma be  physical, sexual, or verbal or if was based in neglect. These children are forced into survival mode - they become hyper vigilant - and the whole world is hostile and dangerous. Imagine that for a moment - every person and event feels like it is potentially life threatening. Normal is chaotic. Normal is unbalanced. Normal is loud and dangerous.

Challenges of Adoptive and Foster Child Behaviours

One of the extreme challenges of working with the Child of Trauma - particularly those who are afflicted with RAD - relates to the 7-1 rule. Basically the 7-1 rule says that for every negative input, a child who has been abused and traumatized at a young age, needs seven positive. Often the Child of Trauma doesn't believe he or she is lovable. They have a deep self loathing that reaches back to the caretakers who hurt, abandoned, or neglected them. The child will act out on these beliefs, often presenting the worst behaviours they can muster.

Parents of Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Often the most overlooked people caught up in the typhoon of Reactive Attachment Disorder are the foster or adoptive parents. The fostadopt parent has done nothing but try and bring a child into their home with the intent of caring for and supporting that child. The fostadopt parent has had nothing to do with the child's previous experiences which were often brutal and neglectful. These experiences have twisted the behaviours of the child into strange patterns that bear little resemblance to a normal child but have to do with the child's survival mechanisms.

So what does this do the parent? Parents of the RAD child usually appear angry, rigid, emotionally distant, and rejecting. Friends and family may feel that the parent(s) overreact to the child's behaviour. What they don't know is that these parents almost never have a break from the child's behaviours which can include:

Working With Your Child's Teacher

One of the challenges of being a parent to a Child of Trauma is developing a team that can work together to serve the child's best interests. There is often the tendency to want to hide problems before they become problems in the interest that an issue may not arise. I would suggest that this is a bad course of action that will ultimately be problematic. This is especially true when you are dealing with the classroom.

Going Back To School

School is getting ready to ramp up. Different parents have different strategies in inserting their children into a new school environment. With Children of Trauma this can be a curious process. Inherent in the school system is a setup for kids to have little continuity between teachers. This, for most children, isn't an issue. They accept that from grade 1 to 2 to 3 and upwards that they will have a different teacher in primary school.