Monday, January 4, 2010


Triangulation is common in kids who have RAD.  It is often mom-dad-child. It can be mom-school-child, mom-grandparent-child or even mom-therapist-child.  Triangulation is when the child acts one way in front of one person and another way in front of the other and builds up an alliance with one against the other. It can be deadly for relationships. I know many people who have to deal with this. Fortunately it is not an area that has been a real problem for us. My husband and I have talked about it from the get go. When the boys were little I'd see the attempts as they lashed out at me verbally. Dad would walk in the door and there was immediate silence. If I said "What did you say?" They would whisper "I know what you are trying to do."  Taz made the most attempts at winnng dad over against me. So one day we did snuggle time together, all three of us. We sat on the edge of the bed and I held Taz held and shoulders. Hubby sat next to me and held Taz's legs. By holding I mean gentle loving holding, not holding down. We both started talking about how much we loved him. Hubby rubbed his feet while I stroked his face and arms. We also told him that dad and I were a team. We would always be together and we would always be there for him.

He got up and went and threw up. I kid you not.

If your hubby still doesn't believe it is going on he needs to speak with someone who knows a great deal about RAD. Record some of what goes on. Wallie World has small recorders and play it back for him.  He needs to understand that trinagulation is a part of RAD and this child is fighting for their very survival in their minds.

School is tougher.  It seems that some years my child and the teacher did battle all year. It is like kids with RAD have a built in device that knows who they can fool and who they cannot. Other teachers would be completely convinced and feel they needed to be "the one" to stand by this child and save them. Simply tell them how much you appreciate their efforts. Remind them that you love this child with all you have and are getting them all the services you can and that you appreciate their support.  As long as the teacher is making their work more simple, expecting less and less and rewarding more and more the child will think they are great. It does the child no favors however as they end the year having not learned all they could have.  I don't think there is much you can do about it and I finally just left school issues to school when I could.

Extended family can be really tough because we care so much what they think. Remind them, too, of how much you love this child. Don't ignore the elephant in the room but speak to them privately and let them know they need to trust you. You are the same person they know and love and you need their support now more than ever.  Give them as much printed info on RAD as you can. Some people never understand RAD at all. 

Don't sacrifice yourself trying to please everyone. You'll lose who you are and in the end they won't all be happy anyway. Focus on your own little family in your own 4 walls. Triangulation is tough but needs to be nipped in the bud immediately by direct discussion.  Never, never, never quit!


peggysue said...

Glad to see you address this issue. It is so open in our family sometimes it is almost comical, I should be thankful for a child who lays it out there, even though not everyone 'gets' it. But I have a husband who does.

I cannot tell you the number of times we've had to go somewhere in a car, sometimes were away for a long weekend and my daughter would ONLY address comments to my husband. We have a joke now about my 'super powers.' I am invisible woman.

We have never had our daughter throw up, that is an extreme reaction but one that very graphically demonstrates the panic inside of these children. Ours has morphed more into a control issue, and we are very talented at pulling out the pouty face.

I was having some difficulty with the teacher early on, and still don't always get notified when my daughter has acted out at school, but as you advised me early on in September, leave school to the teacher. I met with the principal before school began and gave them materials explaining RAD and how to respond, so I did my part. Be careful about that 'concentrating on what's going on inside our own four walls though.' Remember some of your audience has had a week of balmy 5 degree temperatures and winter is giving us cabin fever! :)

Brenda said...

Invisible Woman,

I feel your pain. Our high today is 9. I can hardly bare to go out. By concentrating on your 4 walls I don't mean to stay in them. We went and saw Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel last night. Silly but fun. We went to the Y and worked out together. We do things together as a family, which to me, the 4 walls follow us I guess as long as we are not worried about those around us.

I do remember once in therapy when my husband and I were sitting there. The therapist had Taz sit in a chair next to him that day and said "Who did you bring with you today?" Taz said "My dad." Therapist "Anyone else?" Taz"No just my dad." So I do get the feeling. That hasn't happened to much though.

Carissa said...

Thank you for the great ideas with the triangulaton. We have this problem a lot with my daughter, grandparents and me. My husband and I are much more able to see through it. I need to some how get my parents to see it though. Any suggestions?

LemonyRenee' said...

Thanks, so much, for writing this out. It helps a lot to see it in someone else's writing. My daughter is an expert triangulator. She spent one night at my parents' house when she was 3 and my parents believe I am cruel to her to this day. She also has most of the teachers she's ever had against me. Now that I have found a fantastic therapist, I know how to handle these situations better and feel more secure in myself anyway. It's painful stuff, though, especially when you need support, trust, and understanding more than you ever have in your life.

Your blog is already a Godsend to me.


~Dinah said...

Good post! Hubby and I are a united front. We've got family on board too. School's a bit harder -- cause he's so cute, so helpful, so smart, so athletic so blah blah blah, ya whatever, he's MANIPULATING YOU!!!! lol

LemonyRenee' said...

Perhaps I should read the comments before I comment myself. Now then . . .

PeggySue -- My daughter used to do the same stuff with my husband. It was really a scary time for me as that was before my husband "got it" with her. I felt as if I was being pushed out of my own family. Thankfully, my husband started believing me just on blind faith. One day, when she began asking him for the umpteenth needless thing as soon as I walked out of the room, he told her that if she couldn't say something "in front of Mommy," he wasn't interested in hearing it either. The chilling look and silent treatment he received in return told him the tale for himself.

She kept it up, though, for a while. Eventually, she did something that made my husband grab her by the shoulders and speak very clearly, very close to her face and say, "You keep trying to make me choose you over Mommy. I'm never going to do that. If you make me choose, I choose Mommy. We are a team and we will never be separated. By anyone." I wanted to fall on the floor crying in relief and joy! Things changed from the day on. "Daddy" is on the same level as Mommy now. . . sorry for daddy, but much better for the marriage and family.

My daughter can make herself throw up. I can't count how many family functions and reunions and important-to-me events we left believing she was sick, only to have her feeling just fine by the time we got home. No more of that.

But, tell me this, my daughter is extremely fair-skinned and pale. When she is in a "mood," she can have such dark circles under her eyes, you'd swear she hasn't eaten, slept, or seen the light of day in weeks. No idea how she does that! It is alarming to see, though.

lovingmygirlsalways -- I have the same problem. No idea how it will get fixed. Actually, I doubt that it will. My brother (who is a behavioral therapist for OCD types) gets it and is convinced he can make my parents understand. I fear he will bring fire upon himself. We'll see.

Ahh, good times.

LemonyRenee' said...

Little Wonder -- We have the same thing at school. She is a standout for smiling, sweetness, helpfulness, etc. She is in first grade and her teacher is more interested in being her grandmother figure than in teaching anything. However, I did get the "mean" principal" (vs. the nice principal who deals with the non-student issues) on board. She did have to shake her head in disbelief a few times and say, "It's to hard to believe. She looks just like an American Girl doll. And she always catches my eye to make sure a smile at me. Most kids aren't happy to see me coming." Exactly.

peggysue said...

LemonyRenee, I want to cheer for your husband! And mine has been on board from the beginning too, although as you say, it was blind faith first.

It is interesting to note that the 'cold, dark-eyed glittery stare' we get when we cross our daughter's will sounds like it is universal. Her kindergarten teacher, the first time she crossed her and was treated with the same look, was on board with me from that moment on. First grade, never. Second grade . . . I think the light is slowly dawning for the teacher. But yes, the so sweet, so cute, so helpful, (she's manipulating you and you can't see it!!!) still goes on. The amazing thing to me is that our school does green, yellow and red lights for behavior. If the student goes on red, the teacher is supposed to call the parents to explain what went wrong . . .my daughter's teacher never does. My daughter has gone on double red and beyond . . . and still never a phone call. The system loses its teeth when consequences are not enforced, which also emphasizes the 'mean parent' syndrome here at home where consequences are clearly laid out and followed through with consistently.

Like Brenda says, never give up.

Brenda said...

Lovingmygirlsalways~ Print off some information on RAD. There is quite a bit on triangulation. I will look up some sites later tonight and post them tomorrow. With the relatives make sure they see how much you love your child and not just the strict side. Also make sure you are parenting with loving eyes, soft voice and gentle touch in front of your parents as well as at home. If your parents still say you are mean then give them a little challenge. Ask them to say "We love your mom so much and we think she is a great mom for you. We trust he judgement and would like for you to do just as she says. We will not take sides against her." just one time and see what kind of a reaction they will get.

LemonyRenee~Thanks so much for the encouragement!

LittleWonder~The important thing to remember is that they are manipulating out of fear. It is really is a gut reaction to them. I usually just say "I'm so glad he feels comfortable with you." and let it go. (once you have tried to educate them about RAD)

PeggySue-I personally hate the card system. I think it punishes kids who do not get or care about consequences and does not help.

Integrity Singer said...

there's a really great printable letter on Nancy Thomas' website for teachers.

Brenda said...


Thanks. There are several places that have letters for teachers. I will post those. I have been looking for information on Triangulation in general. It isn't as easy to find as I thought.

Ursula Schneider said...

Glory to God, I'm not the only one! Rare is the person I've been able to convince that my daughter is difficult. She is the picture of helpfulness (control) and smiles (if I look adorable I can get you under my thumb) and self-sacrifice(see what a martyr I am and how unappreciative my mother is). I, on the other hand, appear to be hostile and angry. Funny, when I first read about RAD, I didn't understand that one of the symptoms was a hostile and angry mother. Now I understand completely. Working on that and God is gracious.

Anonymous said...

Holy cats! I'd vomit too if my parents were sitting on the bed next to me, rubbing my arms and legs, and cooing about how much they loooove each other and they're a team and they loooove me.
Does any of the RAD party line stuff, the baby bottles for big kids, the hand feeding of candy, the rubbing of feet, seem a little... creepy to anyone besides me?
In a few years all this katherine leslie nonsense will be exposed as the bull hockey it is but in the meantime clueless parents will fork over big bucks to be told what to do for their "RADish."
That's another term I find degrading and annoying. You're not farmers raising a crop you're parents raising kids. They're KIDS, people! Not RADishes. There is no such thing as RAD. It's a made up "diagnosis" to sell products and services.

Ursula Schneider said...

Anonymous, the fact that your anonymous causes me to question what reason you have to leave such a question. Secondly, do you live with a child who exibits the symptoms of RAD or has a severe trauma history? When you live with it, then you know it exists. Until you do, try not to pass judgement on those who open their homes to children who want to kill them. Try to support them instead. They need it more than you can imagine. They are children, yes, but they are severely disturbed and being treated as though they are not only makes things worse.

Lauren and Clint said...

I know this is an old post but I just found your blog and can't tell you how excited I am. I just have to comment! We are dealing with RAD too and most days I wonder what's wrong with must be me since everyone else thinks he is the most wonderful thing in the world. It's just an amazing feeling to know that we are not alone...and maybe I'm not completely horrible for struggling with this child. Thank you so, so much!