Why do kids with reactive attachment disorder become especially difficult during the holidays?
The reason kids with reactive attachment disorder create such havoc during the holidays is a combination of a few things:
- Children with reactive attachment disorder lack the developmental maturity to think beyond themselves. Just like two-year-old children, they focus on the moment, their needs, and what they can get from others.
- They seek control to feel safe. This often affects their parents’ holiday plans (especially their mothers’ plans).
- Adults place far too much emphasis on material things and overindulgences during the holidays. This reinforces the child’s sense of entitlement and becomes difficult to set limits, even after the holiday is over.
Kids with attachment issues feel entitled to get everything they want during the holidays. They also seek control over everything. When they don’t get what they want, they act like toddlers—except they are much bigger now. That’s not a good combination for calm and peaceful holidays. And the havoc continues when the holidays are over.
What do a toddler and an older child with attachment issues have in common?
A child with reactive attachment disorder—just like a toddler—hasn’t gone through the developmental stage of autonomy versus shame, guilt, and doubt yet. Both kids with attachment disorders and toddlers feel entitled to get everything they want.
The kids we work with were abused or neglected at a young age, right in the midst of important developmental stages. When kids or adults don’t receive treatment for attachment issues, they remain “stuck” in their toddler years developmentally (watch the video “How to recognize attachment disorder in your child“).
What can you do?
The good news? You know the Easter bunny pretty well. So that means you can do something to have a happier holiday.
- Create holiday traditions that revolve around family togetherness and values, not things.
- Get help from an attachment specialist to help your child learn how to value relationships more than the materialistic part of holidays.
- Try to let go of perfection during the holidays.
Remember, your whole family deserves happy and healthy holidays—including you (read Why and How to Find a Break from your Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder.
Please call and invite Forrest Lien to speak at your parent and professional groups worldwide at (303) 674-1910. When we learn together, we can work together to fight attachment disorder.