This is a list compiled from three different charts in the book (pg. 17-20, 24-28, 29-33):
Typical RAD Characteristics:
Sleepwalking, Nightmares or Night Terrors, Bedwetting, etc.
Lack of Eye Contact
Eye contact is excellent only when the child is manipulating or is extremely angry. Otherwise, contact is avoided by averting or rolling the eyes, or by rapid blinking.
Biblical Lens: Averting the eyes can be a fear reaction (Exod. 3:6), a sign of guilt feelings (Ezra 9:6-7), a way to hide desires that the eyes might reveal (Prov. 6:13; 16:30), or a method of manipulation (Prov. 6:25). Perhaps there is an abiding shame from guilt over infractions never rectified. Eye contact communicates awareness of the other person, so lack of eye contact can be a method of alienation, revenge, hurting the other, or conveying disrespect (Ps. 27:9; Prov. 30:17; Isa. 1:15).
Resists Affection on Parents' Terms
Affectionate touching and hugs are verbally and physically rejected. The child stiffens, pulls away, or turns the face away from a kiss on the cheek. Hugging a RAD baby can be like hugging a board. Gifts are often rejected. Praise and affection do not build reciprocity; he does not unconditionally give affection or gifts to family members.
Biblical Lens: Risk of pain from loss of relationship may be avoided by rejecting present relationships. Refusing to be affectionate can also be a method of revenge or a rejection of authority (Luke 15:28-30; Matt. 23:37; Luke 7:32)
Inappropriately Demanding and Clingy
Although he resists parental affection on the parents' terms, he will, in his own timing, initiate ultra cuddly-sweet, even desperate, hugs.
Biblical Lens: A child's rebellious behavior can induce guilt feelings or at least reap negative consequences. By showing extremely affectionate behaviors, the child can persuade himself that he is not so bad after all, even if the affection is all show and no heart (Luke 6:46). Shows of affection can manipulate attention from others. Demanding love on his terms puts him in control. If authorities do not cooperate, their seeming unkindness becomes the brush from painting them as mean (Luke 7:32). Then he can justify defiance and his demand that giving and receiving affection be on his terms.
Superficially Engaging and Charming
The child presents himself as mannerly, cute, sweet, bubbly, demure, cuddly, adoring, or helpless. He will laugh, hug intensely, rub his cheek on the adult's hand, and even cling to new acquaintance with appealing possessiveness. Shy or bold, RAD children are shrewd analysts of others and calculate precisely how to get whatever response they want.
Biblical Lens: Charm can be a deceitful way of getting something without showing one's true thoughts or desires (Prov. 2:16; 12:2; 29:5; 31:30). Attention received can temporarily dull the ache of loneliness. Fleecing another person can spark a thrill (Prov.9:17). It can also inspire a sense of achievement and/or control. One motivation that is likely not at the base of attention-oriented behaviors (clinging, affection toward strangers, charm) is desire for approval. This child is the card shark, not the circus clown. He wants control, the fleece, the ally, or validation of how mean and inept his authorities are.
The unattached child diligently studies people and practices how to con others. He tells others what he thinks they want to hear. He becomes so skilled at an appearance of normalcy that is may be months before a person realizes he has been emotionally duped. The constant phoniness creates a sense of disconnect or remoteness in relationships.
Biblical Lens: This characteristic is similar to that above. Hypocritical love (Rom. 12:9) fakes relationship without commitment; it keeps the other at arm's length. It keeps up appearances while the person also covertly pursues his own agenda. Jesus addressed the phoniness of people's supposed close relationship with God when He said, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46).
Poor Peer Relationships
The antisocial child is usually a loner even if he appears to be friends with everyone. He tends to play with younger children because peers avoid him and younger children are more easily manipulated. He lacks long-term childhood friends.
Biblical Lens: Any child who is centered on protecting himself, his rights, and his possessions, and on trying to control others, is going to have problems keeping friends (Prov. 13:10; 16:28). A loner is selfish (Prov. 18:1).
Abnormal Speech Patterns
The unattached child speaks not to communicate but to control. A favorite technique is mispronouncing a word so that the adult will correct him. Slurring, mumbling, and nearly inaudible speech keep adults asking "What?" Yet, enunciation is crystal clear during an angry outburst. Giving ambiguous, rather than direct, answers to questions keeps adults probing for information. Other techniques include squeaks, forced laughter, incessant laughter, and incessant chatter. Nonsense question, questions about the obvious, or questions that make others feel awkward are also utilized.
Biblical Lens: Speech and language abnormalities, like persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter (Prov. 10:8, 19), are an easy and effective control method. The book of Proverbs is packed with verses on foolish and manipulative speech.
RAD children have trouble learning, so they test out at a lower level than their age mates.
Biblical Lens: While some RAD children truly have learning problems, the learning problem of many is simply that they refuse to learn. Quickness to learn what they want belies test results indicative of retardation or learning disabilities. There may be several reasons for the refusal to learn. A child obsessed with safety is too distracted to learn and avoids risk of failure (Matt. 25:24-25). Learning is hard work. An appearance of being stupid can dupe others, possibly inducing teachers and parents to reduce the work load and expect less (Prov. 12:20). Learning situations are opportunities to play control games (Prov. 9:17;10:23; 26:18-19). Some people take delight in showing contempt for knowledge (Prov. 1:22, 25). Whatever the reasons, learning time is wasted and education lost. Then, it can appear that the child is less intelligent when the real problem is refusal to learn (Prov. 1:7; 22).
Abnormal Eating Patterns
Patterns include stealing and hiding food, hoarding and gorging, refusal to eat, and eating strange things.
Biblical Lens: Fear and revenge can motivate stealing and hoarding (Luke 12:18). Eating odd things may stir a sense of control over natural reactions, produce a thrill, or gain attention.
Theft, Pointless Theft
Theft is chronic, brazen, cunning, and even nonsensical. A grade-schooler named Charles stole baking powder, something useless to him. They enjoy being sneaky.
Biblical Lens: Many desires motivate theft, including anger. Possession of a forbidden object gives a sense of power over the object and over those from whom it was stolen (Prov. 9:17; 20:17). This is true regarding possession of pets and, in adults, kidnapped people.
Destructive to Self, Others, Property, Cruelty to Animals
A RAD child recklessly desregards safety and appears to have no fear of dangerous situations such as cliffs and fire. Tolerance for pain is unusually high. Hurting oneself may be intentional. Hurting others is sport. The RAD child will deliberately be a nuisance, and bully, terrorize, and humiliate others. He underhandedly stirs trouble with others in a way that they are blamed. Vandalism may include anything from adorning the wall with mucous, to punching holes in walls, to arson. Animal cruelty is common. Because the child is so cunning , violent acts are seldom seen or appear to be accidents. If the child is accused, blame is effectively shifted to someone else.
Biblical Lens: Anger commonly leads to destructive behaviors. Revenge motivated Esau to plot to kill Jacob (Gen. 27:41). Fear could be the motive when there is a desire to avoid discovery of a crime. The Pharisees plotted Jesus' death to avoid facing the truth about Him. Cruelty to animals can excite a sense of power (control) or be a convenient and "safe" outlet for anger.
Preoccupation with Blood, Gore, Fire, Weapons
Depending upon the severity of the disorder, the child will be more or less obsessed with those things associated with evil. Drawings go beyond those of dragons and demons to incorporate blood and gore, and can be frightening. Girls and boys may be overly fascinated with uncouthness, sensuality, and promiscuity at an unusually young age.
Biblical Lens: The child who is afraid will think about what he can use to protect himself (Matt. 12:14; 26:4-5, 59; 27:1-2). The child who is angry plans how to get revenge.
Difficulty Learning from Mistakes
No matter the consequences given by parents and society, the child will continue the behavior. He does not learn from positive or negative reinforcements.
Biblical Lens: Proverbs 27:22 describes the RAD child when it says, "Though you pound a fool in a mortar with a pestle along with crushed grain, yet his foolishness will not depart from him." The foolish accounts that he wants is worth suffering the same consequences repeatedly. Habits are hard to change.
Poor Impulse Control
A RAD child may speak kindly one moment, viciously the next. He may steal one moments, be generous in the next.
Biblical Lens: Often, when people are feeling afraid or furious, they do not think logically. They react impulsively (Prov. 12:16, 18; 17:14). Lack of self-control becomes a habit.
Intense Control Battles
The antisocial child works persistently to wrest control of the household away from the parent. He behaves well when he wants something. Otherwise, testing, bossiness, arguments, baiting others, and pushing the limits continue unendingly. Every conversation is a manipulation opportunity. He pretends to not hear, not understand, or to misunderstand. A simple morning greeting might be delayed, dramatized, normal, a deliberate snub, a contemptuous grunt, a glare, a burst of laughter, or an antagonistic "What do you want?" A minute incident may start a control battle that continues unresolved for hours or days. He is as likely to sabotage a fun game as he is to participate.
Biblical Lens: For the child who is afraid, control of others produces a sense of power and invulnerability. For the child who is angry, provocations can achieve revenge. Besides, contest can be fun. That is why people play games and sports. Some people enjoy wrangling over words (2 Tim. 2:14, 16, 23), so Paul warned Timothy to not get caught up in it. Like a coal to fire is a RAD child to strife (Prov. 26:21; 17:19); he is constantly hot to spark a fight for control.
Hyperactivity, hypervigilance, and anger are common.
Biblical Lens: Someone who feels constantly threatened, who feels driven to maintain control, must be always on the alert. Hypervigilance keeps him attuned to people. For example, feeling threatened, the Pharisees watched Jesus, spied on Him, and tried to trap Him (Matt. 20:19-20). Like a boxer, the hypervigilant person studies others to find weaknesses and stays ready to seize opportunities.
Chronic Lying, Lies About the Obvious
Lying is highly skilled, chronic, blatant, and sometimes so ridiculous that the child seems unaware of reality. With his hand in the cookie jar, the child will answer, "What jar?" Lying is not reserved only for escape from trouble. It is a lifestyle. The child may lie about the color of the shirt he is wearing or who was at the birthday party, lying when it gains him nothing and when telling the truth would require less effort.
Biblical Lens: Lies ward off punishment and guilt and keep others baffled. The Pharisees lied to themselves, and lied to others by refusing to answer when they did not want to admit to the obvious (Luke 20:1-8). Lying may arise from an abiding sense of guilt. "The wicked flee when no one is pursuing" (Prov. 28:1). Tricking others can also be a thrilling challenge. Whatever the reason, lying becomes an automatic reflex (Hosea 11:12-12:1).
Lack of Remorse, Seeming Lack of Conscience
When confronted with misbehavior, the child rationalizes, minimizes the harm he caused, shows total indifference, offers excuses, or blames the victim. Remorse is shown only to reduce or prevent punishment. He becomes insolent or furious if an authority expects him to admit wrongdoing. His actions are justified. The expectations of the victim and/or the authority are unreasonable.
Biblical Lens: Feelings of remorse are unpleasant, so people avoid them. A feeling of guilt implies a fault or weakness, which produces fear. Some people get angry at the idea of being wrong. The child becomes all the more desperate to rid himself of remorse feelings by justifying his actions. to the person who considers his own survival to be the ultimate value, it seems logaical that self-defensive behaviors must by rightful and good. With this view, the survivalist determines that he deserves what he steals or that he deserves the right of retaliation. People who love control will not care who they hurt to get the things they want (James 4:2-3). They will care more about keeping everyone under their control than about the basic needs of others (Matt. 9:9-13; 15:1-9; Luke 13:14). Examples of hardheartedness and shamelessness are throughout Scripture--Sodom, Esau, Pharaoh, Israel's child sacrifices, the Pharisees. In these examples, people demanded to do what they wanted without responsibility to any authority for it.
Refusal to Request Help
Biblical Lens: This characteristic is not listed in RAD literature. I have added it based upon my own observations only because I think it is an indicator of an underlying attitude essential to the child's alienation. The observation is, an antisocial child obtains what he wants by his own way (through power or manipulation) or else not at all. Just like the angry people described in James 4:2-3, he will suffer loss or pain rather than ask for help, or even for simple wants like a toy or an outing. This trait is easily missed, probably because absence of something is harder to spot than its presence. It takes time for parents to realize how often they think, "I would love to have given him that, if only he would tell me what he would like to have. If only he would ask." It is an important piece of the puzzle because it silently shouts, "I don't need you!" A RAD child appears determined to trust in only himself (Prov. 3:5; 16:25; 28:26).
From babyhood RAD children develop a pervasive emotional self-sufficiency. Key characteristics include drive for control, hypervigilance, and lack of conscience. Most criminals or rebellious people usually maintain a loyalty to someone, friend or family. RAD children retain no loyalties and exercise a disregard for, and violation of, other people.
Biblical Lens: Our psychological labels are manmade categorizations. Even though the Bible speaks to every human condition, it would be impertinent to demand that it fits out categories. We must find our solutions in the Bible's categories, not vice versa. What people do and say expresses something about their heart desires. Major themes for a RAD child include self-preservation (selfishness), control, fear and anger, bitterness and brooding, and making emotional rather than rational decisions. Over all, the characteristics fit what the Bible calls an "angry man" (Prov. 29:22). Another pertinent big-picture label that accompanies and facilitates anger might be "he who separates himself" (Prov. 18:1), which we might abbreviate "alienated."
From Parenting the Difficult Child by Linda Rice
If you find yourself dealing with children with attachment disorders or see these behaviors daily and sometimes hourly in your home buy this book! It has been such an encouragement to me and I keep it as a guide to refer back to constantly to point myself and my children to when and how these behaviors and motives played out in the bible and how God handled it. I have been on a short, yet very hard, journey and have changed my way of looking at parenting. For some real posts on RAD, I have two posts that describe some of the behaviors we have met on this journey, see Pursue Me and The Story of a Wicked Woman.
Glorious Hope of Redemption
There is hope for the child habituated to fear, anger, and control! Antisocial behaviors can become features of the past! How can that change be effected? It starts with salvation. God promises that when someone agrees that he has sinned and deserves punishment, commits to the truth that Jesus is the Son of God, and repents from self to trust in Christ's redemptive work on the cross, God cleanses him from sin and gives a new heart that desires to please Him (Ezek. 36:25-26; 2 Cor. 5:9). With the new heart comes the ability to renew the mind (Eph. 4:22-24). Through God's Word, the child can learn and believe the truth about his world, himself, and God, and change his desires. The Bible shows how to throw away old tools of controlling the situation and pick up God's tools for handling trouble effectively. He can decide that when fears arise, he will run to God rather than to his own coping strategies (Psalm 18:2; 56:3). When anger boils, he will put on self-control instead (Gal. 5:19-23).
Change of environment helps a great deal. Parents and counselors can influence him by modeling love and the joy of fellowship with God. They can teach truth and gently challenge or correct misperceptions by a calm, logical application of Scripture. They can patiently provide reward and disciplinary consequences. Prayer is essential. Loving parents can woo a child to choose to change.
From Parenting the Difficult Child by Linda Rice, pages 52-53.
I am no longer parenting for my kids, to give my them the best life they could have or making sure they are changing their behavior, I am now parenting for me, to practice putting on fruits of the Spirit when, not if, I am tempted and tried by behaviors and conform more and more to the image of Jesus Christ alone.
Click here for a blog post on how I found:
Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone