5 Signs A Child Has Love Issues
Look for these early signs your child may have love issues.
Signs A Child Has Love Issues:
It's hard to pinpoint exactly what all the signs a child has love issue are, but there are some sure-fire way to get you started. Often children exhibit signs that they may have love issues but then those signs disappear quicker than they came!
Sometimes, however, if the problem persists and parents see signs of a repeated behavior pattern then it might be time to look into some additional help from a trained medical professional. There is no shame in seeking outside help for your child. Often times children may have attachment issues or even a reactive attachment disorder that their parents are unaware of.
Attachment is the deep connection established between a child and caregiver that profoundly affects your child's development and ability to express emotions and develop relationships. If you are the parent of a child with an attachment disorder, you may be exhausted from trying to connect with your child. A child with insecure attachment or an attachment disorder lacks the skills for building meaningful relationships. However, with these tools, and a healthy dose of effort, patience, and love, it is possible to repair attachment challenges.
Understanding Child Love Issues And Attachment Problems:
Children with attachment disorders or other attachment problems have difficulty connecting to others and managing their own emotions. This results in a lack of trust and self-worth, a fear of getting close to anyone, anger, and a need to be in control. A child with an attachment disorder feels unsafe and alone.
So why do some children develop attachment disorders while others don’t? The answer has to do with the attachment process, which relies on the interaction of both parent and child.
Attachment disorders are the result of negative experiences in this early relationship. If young children feel repeatedly abandoned, isolated, powerless, or uncared for—for whatever reason—they will learn that they can’t depend on others and the world is a dangerous and frightening place.
Signs and symptoms of a child with love issues or reactive attachment disorder:
It is important to make the distinction here between "Love Issues" and reactive attachment disorder. While children with reactive attachment disorder will certainly present all of the below five signs of love issues, a child CAN present some or all of the symptoms below without actually having reactive attachment disorder.
Children with reactive attachment disorder have been so disrupted in early life that their future relationships are also impaired. They have difficulty relating to others and are often developmentally delayed. Reactive attachment disorder is common in children who have been abused, bounced around in foster care, lived in orphanages, or taken away from their primary caregiver after establishing a bond.
Some children can simply have issues surrounding love, that while they are problematic, the treatment requires far less modifications and intervention from outside medical professionals.
Common signs and symptoms of a child with love issues or reactive attachment disorder:
1. An aversion to touch and physical affection.
Children with reactive attachment disorder often flinch, laugh, or even say “Ouch” when touched. Rather than producing positive feelings, touch and affection are perceived as a threat.
2. Control issues.
Most children with reactive attachment disorder go to great lengths to remain in control and avoid feeling helpless. They are often disobedient, defiant, and argumentative.
3. Anger problems.
Anger may be expressed directly, in tantrums or acting out, or through manipulative, passive-aggressive behavior. Children with reactive attachment disorder may hide their anger in socially acceptable actions, like giving a high five that hurts or hugging someone too hard.
4. Difficulty showing genuine care and affection.
For example, children with reactive attachment disorder may act inappropriately affectionate with strangers while displaying little or no affection towards their parents.
5. An underdeveloped conscience.
Children with reactive attachment disorder may act like they don’t have a conscience and fail to show guilt, regret, or remorse after behaving badly.
Parenting a child with love issues or insecure or reactive attachment disorder can be exhausting, frustrating, and emotionally trying.
It is hard to put your best parenting foot forward without the reassurance of a loving connection with your child. Sometimes you may wonder if your efforts are worth it, but be assured that they are. With time, patience, and concerted effort, attachment disorders can be repaired. The key is to remain calm, yet firm as you interact with your child. This will teach your child that he or she is safe and can trust you.
A child with an attachment disorder is already experiencing a great deal of stress, so it is imperative that you evaluate and manage your own stress levels before trying to help your child with theirs. Helpguide’s emotional intelligence toolkit can teach you valuable skills for managing stress and dealing with overwhelming emotions, leaving you to focus on your child’s needs.
What parents can do to help their child with love issues, reactive attachment disorder or insecure attachment:
Have realistic expectations. Helping your child with an attachment disorder may be a long road. Focus on making small steps forward and celebrate every sign of success.
Patience is essential. The process may not be as rapid as you'd like, and you can expect bumps along the way. But by remaining patient and focusing on small improvements, you create an atmosphere of safety for your child.
Foster a sense of humor and joy. Joy and humor go a long way toward repairing attachment problems and energizing you even in the midst of hard work. Find at least a couple of people or activities that help you laugh and feel good.
Take care of yourself and manage stress. Reduce other demands on your time and make time for yourself. Rest, good nutrition, and parenting breaks help you relax and recharge your batteries so you can give your attention to your child.
Find support and ask for help. Rely on friends, family, community resources, and respite care (if available). Try to ask for help before you really need it to avoid getting stressed to breaking point. You may also want to consider joining a support group for parents.
Stay positive and hopeful. Be sensitive to the fact that children pick up on feelings. If they sense you’re discouraged, it will be discouraging to them. When you are feeling down, turn to others for reassurance.
Tips for making your child feel safe and secure:
Safety is the core issue for children with reactive attachment disorder and other attachment problems. They are distant and distrustful because they feel unsafe in the world. They keep their guard up to protect themselves, but it also prevents them from accepting love and support. So before anything else, it is essential to build up your child’s sense of security. You can accomplish this by establishing clear expectations and rules of behavior, and by responding consistently so your child knows what to expect when he or she acts a certain way and—even more importantly—knows that no matter what happens, you can be counted on.
Set limits and boundaries.
Consistent, loving boundaries make the world seem more predictable and less scary to children with attachment problems such as reactive attachment disorder. It’s important that they understand what behavior is expected of them, what is and isn’t acceptable, and what the consequences will be if they disregard the rules. This also teaches them that they have more control over what happens to them than they think.
Take charge, yet remain calm when your child is upset or misbehaving.
Remember that “bad” behavior means that your child doesn’t know how to handle what he or she is feeling and needs your help. By staying calm, you show your child that the feeling is manageable. If he or she is being purposefully defiant, follow through with the pre-established consequences in a cool, matter-of-fact manner. But never discipline a child with an attachment disorder when you’re in an emotionally-charged state. This makes the child feel more unsafe and may even reinforce the bad behavior, since it’s clear it pushes your buttons.
Be immediately available to reconnect following a conflict.
Conflict can be especially disturbing for children with insecure attachment or attachment disorders. After a conflict or tantrum where you’ve had to discipline your child, be ready to reconnect as soon as he or she is ready. This reinforces your consistency and love, and will help your child develop a trust that you’ll be there through thick and thin.
Own up to mistakes and initiate repair.
When you let frustration or anger get the best of you or you do something you realize is insensitive, quickly address the mistake. Your willingness to take responsibility and make amends can strengthen the attachment bond. Children with reactive attachment disorder or other attachment problems need to learn that although you may not be perfect, they will be loved, no matter what.
Try to maintain predictable routines and schedules.
A child with an attachment disorder won’t instinctively rely on loved ones, and may feel threatened by transition and inconsistency—for example when traveling or during school vacations. A familiar routine or schedule can provide comfort during times of change.
Repairing insecure attachment by helping your child feel loved
A child who has not bonded early in life will have a hard time accepting love, especially physical expressions of love. But you can help them learn to accept your love with time, consistency, and repetition. Trust and security come from seeing loving actions, hearing reassuring words, and feeling comforted over and over again.
Find things that feel good to your child.
If possible, show your child love through rocking, cuddling, and holding—attachment experiences he or she missed out on earlier. But always be respectful of what feels comfortable and good to your child. In cases of previous abuse and trauma, you may have to go very slowly because your child may be very resistant to physical touch.
Respond to your child’s emotional age.
Children with attachment disorders often act like younger children, both socially and emotionally. You may need to treat them as though they were much younger, using more non-verbal methods of soothing and comforting.
Help your child identify emotions and express his or her needs.
Children with attachment disorders may not know what they are feeling or how to ask for what they need. Reinforce the idea that all feelings are okay and show them healthy ways to express their emotions.
Listen, talk, and play with your child.
Carve out times when you’re able to give your child your full, focused attention in ways that feel comfortable to him or her. It may seem hard to drop everything, eliminate distractions, and just be in the moment, but quality time together provides a great opportunity for your child to open up to you and feel your focused attention and care.
If The Problem Persists Never Feel Ashamed To Seek Professional Treatment For Your Childs Love Issues:
If your child is suffering from a severe attachment problem, especially reactive attachment disorder, seek professional help. Extra support can make a dramatic and positive change in your child’s life, and the earlier you seek help, the better.
If you suspect your child might have an issue with attachment, start by consulting with your pediatrician, a child development specialist, or one of the organizations listed in the Resources and References section below.
Where to find help for reactive attachment disorder or insecure attachment
In the U.S.:
State Part C Coordinators: Find contact details for your state’s early intervention coordinator.
ZERO TO THREE: National Center For Infants, Toddlers and Families: (202) 638-1144
The New York Foundling 24-Hour Parent Helpline: 1-888-435-7553
In the UK:
Young Minds Helpline for Parents and Professionals 0808-802-5544
Early Childhood Australia: Helpline 1800-356-900
h/t | helpguide.org/
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