What I Wish You Knew About Parenting a Child With RAD

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Parenting children who have RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) has been the single most challenging thing of my life. I had read about it, attended seminars about it, talked to other parents who were walking it, but none of that could have prepared me for the reality of it. Because I was not prepared even though I had all the head knowledge, it’s hard to write about this knowing that no matter how carefully I choose my words, they will not be able to fully convey what living this journey is like. I am also carefully structuring my sentences so that they speak in generalities and not about my children in particular.

What I Wish You Knew About being a parent to a child who has RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder)I hope though that in sharing this, others who are parenting kids who have Reactive Attachment Disorder will maybe garner a bit more compassion and understanding from those around them who read this.

This is what I wish you knew about what it’s like to parent a child with RAD:

  1. Children with RAD present very differently outside the home. They are often described as “charming” and “delightful” by others when things in the home are decidedly different. This dichotomy can further isolate parents as they worry that others won’t believe them if they share what the child is like at home.
  2. Children with RAD often have poor boundaries and therefore are socially indiscriminate. What you may see as “friendly” and “cute” may actually be a case of mommy (or daddy) shopping. We would appreciate if you would direct our kids back to us if they try to hug you or sit on your lap. We realize that you are trying to help by picking them up or returning their affection, but you may be further damaging their attachment to us. When in doubt, ask us.
  3. We know in our heads that love will not be enough to fix this, but our hearts often feel differently so we try to pour enough love into our child to replace what is missing.
  4. Parents of kids with RAD carry tremendous guilt. It is a heavy burden to carry the weight of something that was done to my child by someone other than me in a time before I even met them.
  5. These parents second guess everything. I know that all parents second guess, but when you are parenting kids who have RAD, it borders on compulsive and it is draining.
  6. Parents of kids who have RAD sometimes (or often) think they are losing their minds. Kids who have RAD can be expert manipulators, Philadelphia lawyers and extreme triangulators. This can lead to questioning of one’s sanity and second guessing facts that you know to be true. It also puts great strain on marriages or relationships with other caregivers.
  7. Parents of kids who have RAD are proficient detectives in their own homes. They need to be in order to keep from going crazy (see #6 above).
  8. We are tired every minute of every day. Our child’s hypervigilance can cause us to also become hypervigilant as we attempt to avoid any possible trigger for them. Our child’s emotional needs are often greater than the capacity we have as human beings to meet them.
  9. Parents of kids with RAD don’t tell you how bad things are because they don’t trust that you would understand the reasons behind their child’s behaviour and they would rather suffer silently than have you judge them or their child. We don’t tell you the worst because we want to protect our child’s privacy. Whatever we are telling you, imagine it at least ten times worse. Words like “rage” and “aggression” may be codes for “completely out of control for hours” and “physically violent”. We may be sugar coating in an attempt to protect. I would rather have you think that I’m a bad parent than have you think that my child is a monster.
  10. We love our child who has RAD. It hurts our hearts to be constantly rejected by them, but we hold on out of hope that healing is possible. We sometimes see a glimmer of the wonderful child that we know is in there and it makes us fight all the harder to love them through this.

If you are parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, what do you wish others knew? Leave your suggestions in the comments so that others can learn from them.

Recognizing the Signs of Reactive Attachment DisorderRecognizing the Signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder

St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bag

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After the ease of creating our St. Patrick’s Day sensory bottle, I decided to make this St. Patrick’s Day sensory bag using some of the leftover supplies for my kids to enjoy.

This St. Patrick's Day sensory bag is a simple activity to set up for March.For my sensory bags, I use the medium size freezer bags because they are slightly larger and much more durable than sandwich baggies.

One of my daughters loved the squishy feeling of this sensory bag (as you can see from the pictures above!)

Materials needed:

  • medium sized resealable freezer bag
  • clear or light green hand sanitizer
  • large shamrock confetti
  • sparkly clovers (I found these at the dollar store, but you could use these glittered buttons instead)
  • plastic gold coins
  • optional: clear packing tape

Fill the bag with the hand sanitizer and then place the other items inside. You could also add other green items or a plastic rainbow. Remove excess air and seal the bag. If you are making this for younger children, I would suggest adding clear packing tape over the opening so that they don’t open it.

Sensory bags are a great way to explore through touch and sight. They are a simple sensory activity without the potential mess of a sensory bin.

St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bottle

St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin

Sloppy Joes Freezer Meal Recipe

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There is something very cozy about Sloppy Joes, especially when served in the winter. It’s a meal that brings me back to my childhood and I assume will someday be one that brings my kids back to theirs! This sloppy joes freezer meal recipe has that classic taste.

Old School Sloppy Joes freezer meal recipe that can also be made gluten free

There’s no reason that Sloppy Joes can’t be enjoyed by people who eat gluten free if served on gluten free buns. Of course, if you are not on a gluten free diet, you can make this the same way and use your favourite buns.

You can double, triple or quadruple this recipe and separate into freezer bags to have this recipe on hand for busy days.

Sloppy Joes Freezer Meal Recipe:

1 1/2  pounds lean ground beef
1 cup onion, chopped finely
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped finely
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dry mustard powder
1/2 cup chili sauce
14 oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce*
2 tsp. lemon juice

*If you are making this sloppy joes recipe gluten free, be sure to use a gluten free Worcestershire sauce.

Sloppy Joes square

Brown ground beef. Mix ground beef and all other ingredients in a bowl and put into a large resealable freezer bag. Remove the excess air and seal. Lay flat and freeze.

On cooking day, thaw the bag and cook in a crock pot for 2-3 hours on low or cook on the stovetop until heated through. Serve on regular or gluten free buns, sliced in half. Our family’s preference for gluten free buns is Udi’s whole grain gluten free hamburger buns. They are a great size and consistency for Sloppy Joes.

Sloppy Joes

Other Easy Family Recipes:

This recipe is included in our Kid Friendly Freezer Meal Menu Plan. The other recipes are also kid-pleasers and the plan includes printable shopping lists, prep lists and printable labels making it easy to fill your freezer with meals your family will actually eat.

Kid Friendly Freezer Meal Menu Plan


Super Science Activities

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These are fun science activities that can be done with kids and many of them use items you probably already have around the house!Super Science Activities to do with kids with inexpensive items

Kitchen Science Activities

Jello Science Experiments from here on The Chaos and The Clutter (pictured)

Fireworks in Oil and Water from Go Science Girls

Edible Science Experiments for Kids {Printables} The Natural Homeschool

Naked Egg Cell Study from STEAM Powered Family

Testing for Air from Happy Brown House

Onion DNA Experiment from Teach Beside Me (pictured)

Sink or Float Experiment with Lemons from One Perfect Day

Make Your Own Plastic Toys with Milk from STEAM Powered Family

Lima Bean Dissection from Mama Papa Bubba

How to Make Frost from Schooling a Monkey (pictured)

Dancing Rice from Buggy and Buddy

Colourful Celery from here on The Chaos and The Clutter

Apple Science from Coffee Cups and Crayons


Solar System Science Activities

Solar System I-Spy Bag from Research Parent (pictured)

Our Space Explorer Adventure from The Natural Homeschool

Phases of the Moon from The Pinay Homeschooler

Space Sensory Bottle from here on The Chaos and The Clutter (pictured)

Solar System Unit from here on The Chaos and The Clutter

Space Adventures, Games & Activities for Kids {Printable Sets} from The Natural Homeschool

Candy Science Activities

Colourful Candy Science Experiments from STEAM Powered Family (pictured)

Skittles Density Experiment from Winegums & Watermelons

Dissolving Gobstoppers from Mama Papa Bubba

Gummy Bear Osmosis Science from Raising Lifelong Learners

Science with Candy from Mama Miss


Outdoor Science Activities

Backyard Science Lab from Racheous

Nature Ideas for Kids: Herb Garden Play from The Natural Homeschool

Frozen Bubbles from P is for Preschooler

Making a Solar Still from Teach Beside Me

Make a Windsock from here on The Chaos and The Clutter

Nature Ideas for Kids from The Natural Homeschool

Earth Science Activities

How Fold Mountains are Made from here on The Chaos and The Clutter (pictured)

Earthquake Science Experiment from here on The Chaos and The Clutter

Erosion vs. Weathering from The Natural Homeschool (pictured)

How do Salt Flats Form from Planet Smarty Pants

Layers of the Earth from here on The Chaos and The Clutter (pictured)

Graham Cracker Plate Tectonics from Playdough to Plato (pictured)

Making Groundwater from here on The Chaos and The Clutter

Wave in a Bottle from Sugar, Spice and Glitter

Gravity Defying Beads from here on The Chaos and The Clutter

Tide Pool Science Experiment from Buggy and Buddy (pictured)