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Reactive attachment disorder in children

Reactive attachment disorder in children

Reactive attachment disorder occurs in young children and represents the difficulty of social interaction, amid neglecting emotional needs at an early age on the part of parents. Later, the syndrome takes the form of an increased distrust of the child towards the world and people in general, developing an aggressive defense system that prevents the normal integration in the society.

Photo: therapeuticfostering.com

Children who suffer from reactive attachment disorder develop deviant behavior, with emotional disturbances and reaction to changes in the environment. They are hypervigilant, the aggressions towards the opposite sex are frequent, and the way of relating with others is abnormal. The causes of this serious problem have deep roots in the child's first contacts with the outside world.

Causes of reactive behavior disorder

The causes of the reactive behavior disorder start from the wrong way in which the child first came into contact with the environment and with other individuals.

Attachment is the result of the process of forming a close bond between the baby and the parents who take care of it in the first year of life. This period of adaptation to the external environment is fraught with many needs of the newborn, such as food, touch, eye contact, movements, smiles and affection. Ideally, moms know how to meet the baby's needs expressed by crying, so that the baby feels protected from danger.

In this way, the emotional connection formed between the mother and the child is imperative for the optimal development of the baby, having the psychological, cognitive and social effects in the growing child's future. In the absence of this essential connection for the child's mental balance, it is easy to understand that he will not have the ability to establish and maintain harmonious personal relationships.

Thus, children with reactive attachment disorder fear for their safety, develop aggressive and commanding behavior, because they are convinced that in the absence of sustained control, their life is in danger. The situations in which the need for attachment is neglected are:

  • mother's mental handicap;
  • isolation of the parents of the child;
  • parents are teenagers;
  • separation from the natural mother;
  • growth in orphanages;
  • post-partum depression of the mother;
  • unwanted pregnancy.

Symptoms of reactive attachment disorder

Common symptoms manifested by children with attachment disorder are:

  • avoiding physical and visual contact with other persons;
  • refusal to receive care;
  • refusal to receive affection;
  • hostility to social relationships;
  • the need for loneliness;
  • aggressive, offensive and commanding behavior;
  • cruelty to animals;
  • lack of self-control and neglect of one's own hygiene;
  • lack of remorse and disobedience to the rules.

The diagnosis of the disorder is made by analyzing the personal history, physiological and psychiatric examination.

Treatment of reactive attachment disorder

The first step in improving the reactive attachment disorder is to introduce the child into an environment conducive to growth and development. If the child lives with natural parents, they will receive counseling and assistance on how to strengthen the emotional connection with the child and how to remove the harmful factors from the relationship with the child.

In the case of an adoption, the parents need a lot of patience and affectionate availability, until the child manages to integrate into the family. The specialized evaluation allows the application of specific treatment methods.