How to cope with Attachment Disorder in Children
The experience we have when we are very young has a large impact on how we develop later in life. As babies and small children, we depend on the interaction we have with our caregivers to help our brains mature. The interaction we have with them in these early years maps a template for our future relationships and social interactions.
Sadly, for children that don’t have the best start in life, the difficult or fragmented relationships in their early years can cause them challenges forming relationships throughout their lives. As a foster parent you could look after children who have varied degrees of what is known as attachment disorder. This post will help you understand what attachment disorder is, and how you can cope with it.
Does it Attachment Disorder affect older children?
Yes. Attachment problems are by not just restricted to younger children, often older children can exhibit symptoms of attachment disorder. As a foster carer, you might be confronted with challenging behaviour that is symptomatic of attachment disorder in teenagers as well. If never diagnosed or confronted, attachment disorder can affect people through their teen years and adulthood.
What should I look out for?
You will learn more about these problems as part of the training and support you will get on your journey to becoming a foster carer with Lorimer, but here is a summary of some of the issues.
The disorder is usually evaluated on a spectrum scale. It could be the case that children in your care who present more serious symptoms of attachment disorder might need some extra help or therapy.
To understand what to look out for with attachment disorder, you need to know what can cause it. In our early years we learn how to shape healthy relationships from the interaction and observation we take from the adults around us. When an obstruction to what we would consider ‘normal’ relationship building arises, it can result in attachment issues emerging.
This can occur when care has been inconsistent – perhaps due to a change in the home set up, which can be because of a parent’s substance abuse problem or a physical or mental health issue in the home. Other situations that effect home life, from violence or abuse in the home and neglect can also contribute.
Whats are the Symptoms Attachment Disorder?
Not all children will display the same symptoms, as it is probable that they formed certain behaviours from their own unique set of circumstances. Some children can become very withdrawn and introverted, and others may be disinhibited. They may show a dislike to any physical affection or, at the reverse end of the spectrum, some may be inappropriately friendly and outgoing around strangers. Anger management issues, as well as difficulty displaying empathy and a need to be in control situations are all also common indicators of attachment disorder.
Tips on How to Cope with Attachment Disorder Behaviours
Should a child who is known to have attachment disorders be placed with you, your care team will provide you with some background and guidance about their particular set of circumstances and behaviour patterns. In general, your main aim should be to provide a steady and stable care approach with clear boundaries. The goal is to enable children to feel safe and for them to be able to learn how to trust you.
Children will benefit from implementing routines and may show signs of distress if you’re not where they expected you to be. By imposing boundaries, you are likely to bring confrontations to the surface, but it will help the child to feel safe and loved when in the long run.
It can be a good idea to avoid applying discipline in the heat of the moment when discrepancies do occur. Try and make it clear to your foster child that you still you still care to make it easy for you both to reconnect.
When you are a foster carer, overcoming attachment disorder issues can be difficult. At times you will probably feel unappreciated, rejected, and as if you are not making any progress. It’s important to always remember that you are making a positive impact on your foster childs life, even when it feels like you’re not. You should never feel afraid to ask for help when you need it. When you foster with Lorimer, our teams are always on hand to provide guidance and advice.