Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Holding/Restraining RAD

First a big THANK YOU to every one who commented yesterday. I hope moms who read this receive some big help from you all.

I believe there are 3 types of holding I would like to talk about. The first one is a form of Attachment therapy that is no longer used. Attach has prepared a White Paper on Coercian that covers it. I will not discuss it except to say that Attachment therapists don't use it any longer and if you run across old literature and wonder what they are talking about, this is it. Attachment therapy is constantly changing and becoming more nurturing and empathetic and I really like what I am seeing.

The second is actually called Snuggle Time. This is in NO way coercive. This is when you sit on a couch, bed, or chair with our child. If they will fit you hold them as you do a young child, if they are to big they can just lay with their head on your arm and stretch out across the couch. When mine got too big (I have one who is 6') you can just have them lay on the couch and sit next to them with your hand on the arm or lean across and put your hand on the far arm. If they do not want to do this you just use whatever method they are comfortable with because feeling as ease is important for this activity. It may have to start with standing near them and your hand on their shoulder. They may not even allow that. While making eye contact you talk about fun things, tell jokes, laugh, ask about their week, let them know you love them and will be there forever and feed them caramels or ice cream from your hand to their mouth. It has a sweetness somewhat like mother's milk and is very nurturing. This was very strong for us. Powerful.

The third hold is response to a rage. Here is the first step: Find out what is legal in your state. Call you social services or police department. Check with your therapist. Call a residential treatment facility. You may find a lot of people don't know. But be careful to do what is safe and legal. In some states NO HOLD is legal. If that is true do not do it. Ask your therapist for other ideas. It may come down to calling the police and getting help if your child becomes that violent. Once you are aware of what hold is considered safe in your state, use it only when absolutely necessary. The first thing I would do if Taz raged was to send the other kids to their rooms. You don't want them to a) be attacked b)accidently get hit by something the child throws c) be traumatized watching this child screaming and hitting. Then follow the advice of the wise moms who have posted the last couple of days. I want to end with these words by Dr. Becker-Weidmann that he posted a couple of days ago.

" It is important to try to figure out what is underneath or causing the rage: wanting affection or attention, feeling afraid or threatened, a trauma trigger, or something is that which is driving the rage that you want to respond to and which will, in the long run, help the rage to stop."

Physical violence on our part is never the answer. We have to stay emotionally regulated through out their rages. Sometimes I find this easy. Sometimes it is hard. He will work hard to say things that he knows upset me because he seems to feed off of my emotional chaos. Do not allow that to happen. Have a healing day.


Dinah said...

Thanks for this post. My experience is that most "regular" folks do not understand the nurturing hold...they assume that any attachment hold or attachment therapy for that matter is the coersive holding that has drawn all the negative press in years past.

Brenda said...


I have had the same experience. They are totally different.

Arthur Becker-Weidman, PhD said...


A very nice analysis and the three distinctions are quite helpful. Since coercive holding is not considered appropriate or a form of treatment, that really leaves two, as you outlined. I often call the first of those cradling, as distinct form holding, which does imply some degree of force. Holding or restraint for safety really isn't treatment; but sometimes is necessary to protect persons and property. Yes, you should "restrain" your two-year old from running out into the street to see the puppy on the other side. And, yes, it isn't ok for a child to club you with a shoe...these are safety issues.

Thanks for a great discussion.

A said...

I believe it is never necessary or appropriate to hold or restrain a child. When my oldest (then 3.5) would rage for hours on end - I would just sit down on the floor near her and listen to her rage. My wife would pick up our youngest and remove her to another room - our oldest would try to whack them while they left. She would also occasionally throw things and constantly kick (the wall, the floor, the couch, whatever she could reach with her feet). I would just sit there and look at her and whisper "you are safe" and "I love you" which initially made her scream louder and longer.

Within days her rages went from 3+ hours to 40 minutes. And even sooner than that she would let me rock her with a bottle of milk at the end of each rage, while I soothed her and reiterated how loved and wanted and safe she is. It was my being able to regulate my emotions that let her borrow some of that regulation to calm herself.

At the end of each day, every day, as I tuck her into bed we talk about the day. We talk about how hard school was or how fun swimming was or how mad she is at me her birth mom her geography teacher her sister. And there is always resolution, whether that is that we both make an effort to get along better or that she tries to be nicer to her sister or that I try harder to yell less. And the end of the conversation is always how much I love her and want her and how I will always always always keep her safe.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

I meant to tell you I posted your link on my blog in a post, for people to come over and comment. Sorry, I usually ask first but sounds like it was all good!

Lynn Owens said...

We have done a lot of snuggle holds...but the one that shocked me the most was the effectiveness of restraining during a rage. We had one little guy that enraged daily. First we tried just ignoring. We ended up with holes in the wall. Next I tried simply holing him while not talking to him. It usually took about hour.

One day I held him and he screamed to be let go. I told him in a firm voice, "NO. - I am not going to let you hurt yourself, or destroy anything. If I have to call in the neighbor from across the street, the army, navy and air force to help me, you are not going to be free to destroy everything."

He immediately relaxed. It seems he just needed to know that I either cared enough to do what it took to help him, or that I was powerful enough to stop him. From then on, he rarely enraged (when I was around). Seems having strength around was very calming for him.

Brenda said...

I absolutely love the varied responses with total respect for one anothers opinions. Says a lot about the moms of RAD kids IMHO.

truevyne said...

I don't do any restraining, because we thankfully don't need it.
We do "snuggle time" now that we know about it, but we've never called it that.
My son does go into rages, and I have different strategies. One is for me to get the other children in a safe room watching a movie or playing a game and eating popcorn- something fun. Then I take out a book to read myself until he collects himself.
Occasionally, he flies into a rage when he's excused him to his room when we've tried everything else and can't think of what to do next. If he refuses to go and stay in his room, we've made a long trek to therapeutic respite if our provider is available.