Radishes really can’t hug, but then neither can RADishes.
Reactive Attachment Disorder is a disorder of relationships, so it isn’t surprising that children with RAD aren’t warm and fuzzy huggers. I never really noticed this with my daughters. I am a hugger, so I was always hugging them. I didn’t realize they weren’t hugging back. Especially Elle.
There are all kinds of hugs, hugs between married couples, hugs between best girlfriends, hugs between work colleagues, and the air kiss hugs between the Real Housewives of New York.
When we first started RAD therapy, we learned that Elle really wasn’t hugging us. It was sort of hugging, but it never reached the level of a loving exchange, and we always initiated it.
Elle would lead with her chest, half-heartedly wrapping her arms around us, clenching her fists, and digging her chin into our sides. It wasn’t the most comforting of hugs, but we didn’t know there was a better way.
So, we started hug therapy. We actually practiced in our therapist’s office. The hardest thing for Elle to learn was unclenching her fists. I could always feel her fists in the small of my back. Every time I felt those fists, I would flutter my fingers along her back. She is very ticklish and this often resulted in a laughing, wiggling, lump on the floor. The laughing usually dispelled her bad mood, and she would hug me the right way.
With time we learned that a real hug is one with their ear next to our heart, hands flat against our back, and relaxing into the hug. Hugging a stiff child just doesn’t feel right. Plus, as parents, we decide when the hug ends.
We’ve gotten a lot better with hugs around our house. My once stiff Russian daughter is now the Princess of Hugs. Through her therapy and the building of our relationship, Elle has become a very empathetic hugger. If she senses that I am having a bad day or I just need a good hug, she is quick to throw her arms around me.
Encompassing me in a loving and giving embrace.
A much better alternative than hugging a red, edible root vegetable.