Addendum to Empowering Mothers: The symptoms of Attachment Disorder

  1. Acting phony around strangers
  2. Avoids eye contact with people who
  3. Hugs strangers (most toddlers and young children would be shy)
  4. Stiff hugger. Not cuddly with loved ones.
  5. Sneaky. Extreme control problems.
  6. Destructive to self and others and animals.
  7. Lying (telling lies or twisting stories).
  8. Impulsive.
  9. Learning disorder—can’t or won’t follow instructions.
  10. Lacks the ability to see cause and effect.
  11. No conscience
  12. Abnormal eating: starving or gorging
  13. Need for control drives friends away
  14. Fascinated with destruction, blood, gore, evil.
  15. Interrupts, makes noise, monopolizes conversations, manipulates.

The above list comes from Nancy L. Thomas who wrote “When Love is not enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder.”

The following information comes from:

Click on the above link for more information on the range of symptoms and early warning signs.

What causes reactive attachment disorder and other attachment problems?

Reactive attachment disorder and other attachment problems occur when children have been unable to consistently connect with a parent or primary caregiver. This can happen for many reasons:

  • A baby cries and no one responds or offers comfort.
  • A baby is hungry or wet, and they aren’t attended to for hours.
  • No one looks at, talks to, or smiles at the baby, so the baby feels alone.
  • A young child gets attention only by acting out or displaying other extreme behaviors.
  • A young child or baby is mistreated or abused.
  • Sometimes the child’s needs are met and sometimes they aren’t. The child never knows what to expect.
  • The infant or young child is hospitalized or separated from his or her parents.
  • A baby or young child is moved from one caregiver to another (can be the result of adoption, foster care, or the loss of a parent).
  • The parent is emotionally unavailable because of depression, an illness, or a substance abuse problem.


A personal story about dealing with attachment:

See also these articles on adoption:

Read on for more parenting tips…

Empowering Mothers, part 1: Dealing with Power Drains

By: Delana S

Three years ago God blessed our family with a five year old girl, who though she came with very few physical possessions, came fully loaded with excess baggage. Though I had been parenting for nearly two decades, I needed to learn new skills, different skills to be an effective parent to our daughter. I had to learn about attachment disorder and its characteristics (see the list posted here). In the process, I learned some things that are valuable parenting tips for all children (especially those who are strong-willed and are tempted towards non-compliance). The book I most often refer parents to is Parenting with Love and Logic. If you have kids of any age, I still highly recommend this book. The tips in this series of articles, though, come from author Nancy L. Thomas who wrote “When Love is not enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder.” I hope that the tidbits I gleaned from this guide will empower you in the battles you may face in parenting your children.

Ms. Thomas stresses the importance of mothers taking care of themselves through date nights, reading, jogging, and establishing a support system. When a child’s temper or disobedience adds to an already stressful day, we can quickly be drained of all our energy. Thus, we need to harness the excess energy of our children. “I feel an energy drain coming on. Would you like to do an extra chore for me to help me out or spend 30 minutes of quiet time in your room to give me a coffee break?” The child is given a choice of two options to restore mom’s energy. I recommend that you give her only 5 seconds to choose her option or you will choose for her. Obviously, the options might need to vary some depending on the age of the child.

Power drains need to be identified in order to be eliminated. Here are five power drains that you might identify: useless chatter, whining, interrupting, pity parties, and bedtime hassles.

1) For useless chatter try instructing your child to place his hand over his mouth for 1-2 minutes until he gains control. No explanation, just action!

2) Whining gets an immediate nap! Powerful parents know when their children need rest and provide it swiftly, with love and understanding. If your child whines on the way to the bedroom, then calmly add another 15-30 minutes to the naptime. And my favorite part is this: “Thank them for letting you know how tired they are.”

3) When a child interrupts, a child needs help practicing being patient. Have her sit in a chair for 2-5 minutes of quiet. Then, give her a hug, ask what was so important, and give her your full attention. Make sure your children know that you can only be interrupted for an emergency and let her know what those are (fire, bleeding, etc.).

4) Children having pity parties need appreciation training. Simulating this in some of our locations might be a challenge, but I imagine your creativity will pay off. The recommendation is to take your child to a place where they can experience working for everything like an adult. Ms. Thomas’ recommendation for those with attachment disorder is actually pretty severe (as in leaving a child in a trained respite home to do this work…away from their parents), however, in your child’s case it may be enough to take them to work in a soup kitchen or do some other task for the less fortunate.

5) Finally, bedtime hassles drain a mom’s energy at a time of day when she has the least energy remaining. By the time a child is 6 years old, he should go to bed without a ritual. Be in his room, in his bed, and quiet (turning out his own light when he is tired—as long as he is obeying the room/bed/quiet part). Every minute he is late getting to his room by the required time, he gets an extra chore the next day. For tips on bedtime hassles of younger children, I recommend reading Parenting with Love and Logic.

So, how do you get a child to comply with the 5 power drain experiences? The consequence for not following through is no Nintendo, videos, or computer (or other highly desired item/activity) until healed of the ailment.

For more on this subject, see: Empowering Mothers, part 2: Establishing Respect

6 thoughts on “Addendum to Empowering Mothers: The symptoms of Attachment Disorder

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