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How should I help younger siblings understand oldest had an Attachment Disorder?

My 5 year old (I have had him since age two) has an attachment disorder from being neglected and abandoned by his biological mother in the first year and a half of his life. He has been with me since age two, and has slowly been becoming a more stable child. He still has outbursts of rage, set off by little things, and can be violent (though he has never done more than hit or push the younger kids). He is unable to properly empathize with others because of his disorder, and it causes him to sometimes be cruel and hurt others. I am very happy with his progress, and how far he has come. I'm sure he's on the path to being able to live a life without the repercussions of his earlier years.
My main concerns are, 1. What is the best way to explain to younger siblings (age 2 and 3) that the oldest has a disorder that makes him have outbursts and that he does love them even though he lashes out? and 2. It seems like the younger ones sometimes model his behavior (his angry tantrums and pushing others when mad), and I'm afraid that they will emulate it through their lives even though they have been raised in a loving/non-neglectful home just because they are copying their older sibling whom they look up to.
Does anyone have a similar situation with multiple kids living in a house with a child with a disorder? Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated.
I really feel like I'm doing the younger kids a disservice. They both have more easy going temperaments, but admire their older brother so much. I feel as though they're victims of my oldest's disorder. I'm also afraid they will feel abused by him, and confused of his feelings for them since he is off and on very sweet and caring, and then angry and violent.
They all receive time outs for misbehaving, and then are talked to about their behavior and role play how they could have handled the situation better. I do not do any physical punishment, and I will not so please no suggestions of that.

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Asked by caitlingreetis at 1:26 AM on Apr. 11, 2011 in Adoption

Level 4 (32 Credits)
Answers (3)
  • Why tell them now? As a mom you protect all your kids. They love and look up to big bro. Cool. Explain when he gets mad he has problems being mad and sad appropriately but the whole family is working on it. Just remind them each time after a rage. Simple. No need to get dramatic, say brother has this major disorder and why. Especially to toddlers. By providing excellent supervision and counseling for you as a parent for how to specifically learn parenting approaches for your child and family. Your spouse should also equally be participating for the best results. A big hoop la is not needed. Simple direct comments to comfort the other kids and to provide respect and privacy for your oldest.

    Answer by frogdawg at 10:57 PM on Apr. 11, 2011

  • I agree with frogdawg. Not certain younger children can comprehend something as complex as attachment disorder., or if they should be told about it specifically. I think explaining to them that your oldest son has problems with his being angry or sad appropriately after an outburst is probably enough. Make it clear that his behavior is not to be emulated.

    Do all you can to protect your younger children so they do not feel victimized by their older brother. As a mom, it is your job to insure that they are NOT abused by their brother. Maybe they will confused at times about his differing behaviors, but, that is reality and I think as long as you try to help them understand his behavior is unacceptable and being worked on they will be okay.

    Have you worked with an attachment disorder specialist in your area? It might be very beneficial for you to do so if you have not.

    Answer by Southernroots at 11:48 AM on Apr. 13, 2011

  • Our 9 yr old has extensive issues - RAD, ODD and PTSD and was just diagnosed with Huntington's Disease - already active in childhood (very rare) which intensify the problems. When she's in "fit mode" she will scream for HOURS a day, for days and days on end.

    We have younger children (1 yr old fd, 2 yr old dd, 5 yr old ds and also our 14 yr old dd is home) - and after 3 years of living with her, they all just understand sometimes DD acts out. She's sometimes doing better but we don't label her - and we also don't say "well DD can't help it because she had a horrible start in life". We are careful to not let DD be unsupervised much because it leads to negative behavior.

    We remain vigilent, and teach dd that she CAN learn to behave appropriately.

    Good luck!

    Answer by AAAMama at 12:14 PM on Apr. 22, 2011

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