lonely chairIf one more well-meaning individual tells me that my kids are just like their kids, I’m going to stick an ice pick in my eye. It’s a little like telling a Hurricane Katrina survivor, “Oh yeah, it rains at my house, too.” Okay, okay all kids lie sometimes to avoid getting in trouble, all kids are snotty sometimes, all kids have gaps in their empathy toward other people. That’s where the similarities end with RAD kids.

I have a fourteen-year-old daughter who has chosen to stay in her room for two weeks rather than be respectful, responsible, and fun to be with. We removed everything from her room that was fun (boredom therapy) and then removed everything she could throw at the walls when she’s angry, ultimately removing her shutters, mirror and pictures as well to prevent damage to them. She wants to earn fun privileges, that’s normal. She doesn’t want to follow the rules to earn the privileges, that could be normal, too. But faced with day after day in a room of four walls, no books, and absolutely nothing to do, she would rather stay mad, self-pitying and blaming. The door is not locked so she can come out any time. She can earn fun privileges any time she chooses to do so, but she would rather sit in there than show us respect and follow our rules. That is not normal, and it’s not how your teenagers were. (I’m speaking to the well-meaning individuals who want to reassure me that their kids did it, too.)

We are trying different things to help my daughter shift, like riding horses twice a week. Our therapist also told her to go ahead and stay mad and “yucky” this week rather than putting any pressure on herself to earn privileges. Sort of the paradoxical direction thing. The therapist explained to my daughter that it’s easier to hide behind her rage than to feel her real feelings of sadness and loneliness but that as she gets stronger and her brain heals, she’ll be able to deal with those scary feelings. The horse therapist told me to start giving her GABA as a supplement to help her brain shift.

You would think that just sitting in that room would be enough to make her act respectful, responsible and fun to be with. But two nights ago she claims she “found” leftover coins in her closet from my husband’s coin collection that she stole. Did she return them to my husband knowing how happy he would be to get any of those coins back? No, she snuck them under her door to her nine-year-old brother.

It’s mind-boggling and heart-breaking to watch her choose to stay alone (safe) in her room and delude herself that she’s in some kind of control. I want so much for her to earn a dang privilege already but I can’t force her to choose that. It’s also hard for her brothers to watch, who have each chosen to be respectful, responsible and fun to be with most of the time. They still get the occasional peanut butter sandwich in their room while they write an essay about their feelings, but they’ve chosen to at least begin attaching to us. My poor daughter would rather sit in her room day after day than get close to us. It’s so emotionally draining to feel her up there being so stuck. I have my ice pick ready for the next time someone tells me they know what we’re going through because their (non-RAD) kids wouldn’t follow their rules either.

Photo credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/532447<