5 Warning Signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder

Reactive attachment disorder affects the lives of many children and a large portion of the children never get help because their parents are unaware of the issue.

What is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

Reactive attachment disorder is where children are apathetic to others and to their parents and have a hard time dealing with emotions. The disorder occurs when children begin to view the world as a bad place and learn not to trust anyone.

Numerous things can happen in a toddler’s life that cause them to feel alone and isolated. When a child feels this way numerous times throughout their life they will begin to disconnect themselves from the world and all the people who are close to them.

The beginning of a reactive attachment disorder starts with the connection and attachment between a baby and their parent or caregiver.

According to www.helpguide.org, common actions that occur during the attachment process between a parent and child that may cause reactive attachment disorder are:

  • 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 are not and because of this 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, which could 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

Some of these problems can be helped by the child’s parents but some of them are unavoidable and unfortunately can impact the child’s trust towards their parents whether intentional or not.

Warning Signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder

a large portion of children never get help because parents are unaware of this disorder

Knowing the warning signs can help you get treatment for your child during the disorder’s early stages.

If a parent knows that their child has been neglected either by intentional or unintentional reasons they should know the signs to look out for in regards to reactive attachment disorder.

Signs that a child may be suffering from reactive attachment disorder are:

  • The child does not show signs of empathy and does not care when they behave badly or get into trouble
  • The child has control issues and becomes angry or violent when they are told to do something by an authority figure
  • The child is angered easily
  • The child does not like to be touched by their parents or anyone showing them signs of affection

Before reactive attachment disorders occur there may be precursors which include:

  • The child does not smile
  • The child does not care when their parent leaves them alone for long periods of time
  • The child rejects any type of affection towards them
  • The child does not make eye contact with people
  • The child provides their own comfort mechanism such as cradling themself or rocking themself

There is treatment for reactive attachment disorder through therapy and it is best treated in its early stages of development. Once a child forms a strong case of the disorder it is far more difficult to recreate a trust formation between a child and their parents or caregivers.


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