How To Make Sense Of Attachment Issues In Children From Trauma.

Season 7, Episode 60- The Honestly Adoption Podcast

“What are some common signs that my child may have attachment issues?”  “What can I do to build healthy attachments with my child?”  “Why do I feel like my child is always trying to manipulate me?”  Have you ever struggled with any of these questions?  Be sure not to miss out this week on:

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In this episode of The Honestly Adoption Podcast, Mike and Kristin interview the ever-so-popular Deborah Gray (LCSW) on how to make sense of attachment issues in children from trauma.

Listen Now:


Notes and Quotes:

What are some common signs that a child may have attachment issues?
  • They have a high need to control – they don’t trust the parent to take care of them and/or they fall apart if they can’t control the situation.
  • They never calm down with their parent, but are escalated even more (no co-regulation happening).
  • They don’t want to be close in an enjoyable way but act either clingy or keep a distance.
  • They don’t seem to enjoy being with their parent
  • They always are guarded
  • They are emotionally or physically abusive toward their parent
  • They damage things that are important to their parents (valuable items and other children in the home)
What steps can parents take to begin building healthy attachments with their child?
  • Maintain sensitivity towards your child (not a heart of anger)
  • Keep yourself balanced and relaxed
  • Seek out trauma or grief treatment for your children
  • Watch your own stress levels, creating enough margin of both time and energy
  • Avoid signing up for or saying yes to lots of “stuff”
  • Resign from many previous commitments and focus on the task at hand for a season
  • Make your house a FUN and PLAYFUL house

“Things that are physical, novel, and high excitement are good for brains!”

To a child with attachment issues, remember that negative attention is better than no attention at all, so keep it fun and playful.

Resources and Links:

Deborah Gray (LCSW) is a leading attachment therapist, best-selling author, and sought-after speaker.  Her helpful explanations, practical approaches, and warm personality have made her one of the favorite teachers at the yearly Refresh Conference for Adoptive and Foster Parents as well as at other conferences around the country.  She also leads professional trainings for therapists and caseworkers and is a part of the teaching team for the 84 unit Attachment-Trauma Focused Therapy Post-Graduate Certificate Program for Master’s Level Clinicians. Dr. Gray’s work encourages parents to develop close and satisfying relationships with their children by learning research-based strategies for shaping behavior and working through trauma and grief.

Deborah is the author of four booksAttaching with Love hugs and Play, Attaching in Adoption, Nurturing Attachments, and Games and Activities for Attaching with your Child.

Question: Leave us a note below to let us know if you struggle with attachment with your child(ren) and what other questions you may have. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Murray Coulter

    Both of our children came into our home very young. The one that seems to have issues described in this episode came to our home when he was a day old. He seems to exhibit many signs of attachment difficulty.

    Is it possible that prenatal trauma could create these issues?

    • Yes, I wouldn’t focus on the attachment word as much as I would the trauma. Because trauma is the root of all diagnoses, really. It just manifests itself differently. And if you compare several diagnoses, they mimic each other. Sometimes it’s hard to know the “diagnosis” but we know trauma is the cause. Mine all came home young. 2 infants, 2 toddlers. My youngest infant has more issues. Back before much was talked about, everyone labeled it attachment because that’s all they knew with adopted kids. But then we had him formally diagnosed and knew he really was “attached,” so he was diagnosed with anxiety. That made a whole lot more sense. But sometimes when they have so much anxiety, it affects attachment. I’m not a professional. But this is how the professionals explained it to me. It does make it hard as a parent especially when the old thought was they won’t have any problems when they come so young. And prenatal trauma is just as real as postnatal. They can be malnourished in the womb and live in a very stressful environment in utero. Stress creates anxiety. And it’s so hard to deal with as the child and the parent. We are pulling for you.

  • Thanks for link. We have heard of them! Perhaps we will connect!

  • Thanks for sharing this! 🙂