Reactive Attachment Disorder Parenting Resource Round-Up: 34 Sources to Survive the Difficult Path

Updated: Mar 31



Updated March 2022


When my husband and I adopted our son with reactive attachment disorder (RAD) over a decade ago, we knew nothing about the affliction. In fact, we didn't even know the disorder existed in the first place.


Even if I knew enough to search "reactive attachment disorder parenting"online, I would've found very little. While more resources exist today, there's not a lot of (good) information out there for struggling RAD parents.


RAD Advocates guides parents through the toughest of times. Learn more.


The suggestion we received from nearly everyone, including professionals, was to just love our son and tell him that we'll always be there. Everything would turn out fine, they said. It seemed logical, intuitive, and easy. We obviously planned to do so anyway.


But nine years later, I sat in a therapist's office at my wit's end. Love hadn’t helped with my son’s bizarre and troublesome behaviors. He was struggling immensely and my family was falling apart alongside him.

Although the therapist pinpointed reactive attachment disorder as the struggle, she admitted (thankfully) that she didn’t know how to treat it. I felt so much validation in realizing that I wasn’t crazy. Yet, we still needed the next steps.


I began researching online.

I found very little on how to treat or live with the disorder, at least to the degree with which my son struggled. We continued to fumble ahead on our own for the most part. While my family made it through, we learned a lot the hard way. That’s why I’m a RAD advocate now—to help other parents prevent the pain and chaos my family experienced.

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My colleagues and I at RAD Advocates sorted through the books and people available for reactive attachment disorder parenting today that we wish we knew about early on. Below are the ones we believe are worth exploration. We strongly advise, however, that parents acknowledge how every child and family is unique as they seek resources. What works for one family might not work for another family, and vice versa.


"We see reactive attachment disorder on a spectrum from mild to severe, with attachment issues being very different from a reactive attachment disorder," says RAD Advocates President Amy VanTine. "It's critical for parents to do their due diligence as they carefully research the best options for their individual child and family."


Experts with a unique niche who can help RAD parents, particularly those with children in the moderate to severe range of the disorder:


Best Choice Admissions - Best Choice Admissions helps parents locate therapeutic programs or boarding schools for their troubled teenagers at no cost. Although difficult, some children simply cannot heal in their own homes.

Carrie O’Toole/Carrie O’Toole Ministries - Author and board-certified Christian life coach Carrie O’Toole works with families through the grief of reactive attachment disorder parenting and relinquishment, including couples’ retreats and parent coaching. She also wrote When Love Means Letting Go.


Lifespan Trauma Consulting - Some children can effectively receive therapeutic solutions for reactive attachment disorder. Yet, others likely cannot due to the severity of their disorder or other factors. Renowned trauma expert Forrest Lien, LCSW, helps parents decipher realistic and best solutions based on accurate reactive attachment disorder assessments (which are done remotely). He and his colleague also provide medication consultation accordingly.


RAD Advocates - As we believe strongly in our mission, we’d be remiss not to add ourselves as a valuable resource for reactive attachment disorder parenting. We are a nonprofit organization founded by mothers of children with reactive attachment disorder. We help RAD families navigate the tangled human services system, insurance difficulties, therapeutic options, safety plans, etc. unique to their situation. We also train professionals, communities and other entities so that they may better serve RAD families, particularly those struggling with children on the moderate to severe range of the disorder.

Helpful books and other media about reactive attachment disorder parenting:


The Boy Who Was Raised by a Dog by Dr. Bruce Perry - Through his research, Dr. Bruce Perry has been instrumental in integrating successful new modalities and practices into dozens of organizations serving maltreated children. He has authored several books including The Boy Who Was Raised As A Dog, a bestselling book based on his work with maltreated children, and Born For Love: Why Empathy is Essential and Endangered. His most recent multimedia book, BRIEF: Reflections on Childhood, Trauma, and Society was released in 2013.


The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. van der Kolk - Dr. van der Kolk is an expert on trauma and how it affects the brain, body, and nervous system. His explanations and insight are extremely helpful for caregivers and clinicians in understanding the breadth of developmental trauma.


The suggestion we received from nearly everyone, including professionals, was to just love our son and tell him that we'll always be there...but nine years later, I sat in a therapist's office at my wit's end. Love hadn’t helped with my son’s bizarre and troublesome behaviors.

The Guide to Raising Kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder that You Won't Find in Bookstores by RAD Advocates - While there is no official, one-size-fits-all reactive attachment disorder parenting guide, we put together a blog post of things we learned the hard way along our own RAD journeys.


Raising A Thief by Paul Podolsky - Paul shares his experiences of adoption to help readers grasp the immeasurable impact a primary caregiver has in the early stages of childhood. The content helps people understand why some kids bounce back from tragic adversities while others struggle for life.


Reactive Attachment Disorder: The Essential Guide for Parents by Keri Williams - Keri provides straightforward and helpful advice for those raising children with reactive attachment disorder based on her own experiences in a short and easy-to-read format. She also wrote But, he spit in my coffee: A reads-like fiction memoir about adopting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD); a non-fiction book based on her personal experiences. It is an eye-opening book to share with friends and family who do not understand the realities of reactive attachment disorder parenting.


“Troubled Child”, a.k.a. “The Boarder” - Inspired by true-life events, this movie gives an eerily accurate representation of how reactive attachment disorder manipulation and triangulation can tear a family apart.


An Unlit Path by Deborah L Hannah - This true and tragic story raises awareness of the risks and rewards of adoption and foster care. While not necessarily educational, this book can provide parents with the comfort of shared experiences.


Online resources for reactive attachment disorder:

Andrea Shindle - Andrea is a therapist who provides support to parents raising traumatized children. Her videos are informative in that respect and cover a wide range of related topics.

Break the Chains of Trauma - With a focus on giving clients a space to learn, heal, and be supported, the Facebook page is also a valuable resource for parenting children with reactive attachment disorder.


Chris Prange-Morgan - Author, speaker, and fellow trauma mama Chris Prange-Morgan certainly understands the impact of raising children with reactive attachment disorder. She suffered a life-altering injury under the brain fog of existential concerns surrounding parenting traumatized children.

RAD Sibs - Children with reactive attachment disorder are not the only people affected by the impact of trauma. The siblings they grow up with also garner their very own trauma and abuse. The RAD Sibs website helps those children understand they are not alone. In addition, parents learn how their “easy” children feel the impact of the disorder too.

RAD Talk with Tracey podcast - We are excited to partner with Tracey Poffenroth Prato to increase awareness about the realities of raising children with reactive attachment disorder. Tracey is a certified life coach and RAD parent who supports other parents along their journey via her coaching and raw and real podcast episodes.


“Wretched” video - Todd Friel gives a glimpse of what life is like for those raising children with reactive attachment disorder. His video is helpful for parents to share with family and friends.


Other books worth mentioning (while RAD Advocates did not hand-select all of the following, we've heard they've been helpful for other families):

  • Beyond Behaviors: Mona Delahooke, PhD

  • Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children by Daniel A. Hughes, Kirby Heyborne, et al.

  • Childhood Disrupted: How Your Biography Becomes Your Biology, and How You Can Feel by Donna Jackson Nakazawa

  • Dancing with a Porcupine: Parenting wounded children without losing yourself by Jennie Lynn Owens, Kristen Berry, et al.

  • The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Trauma and Adversity by Nadine Burke Harris

"We see reactive attachment disorder on a spectrum from mild to severe, with attachment issues being very different from a reactive attachment disorder," says RAD Advocates President Amy VanTine. "It's critical for parents to do their due diligence as they carefully research the best options for their individual child and family."
  • The Explosive Child by Ross GreeneFrom Fear to Love by Bryan Post and Mark Trotter

  • Help for Billy: A Beyond Consequences Approach to Helping Challenging Children in the Classroom by Heather T. Forbes

  • I Hate You–Don't Leave Me: Third Edition; Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman and Hal Straus

  • Love Never Quits by Gina Heumann

  • Parenting with Love and Logic; Teaching Children Responsibility by Foster Cline and Jim Fay

  • A Place I Didn’t Belong: Hope for Adoptive Mom by Paula Freeman

  • The Primal Wound by Nancy Newton Verrier

  • Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason

  • The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

  • Upside Down: Understanding and Supporting Attachment in Adoptive and Foster Families by Shannon Guerra

  • What Traumatized Children Can Teach Us About Loss, Love, and Healing by Bruce J. Perry and Maia Szalavitz

  • When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Maté, Daniel Maté, et al.


The reactive attachment disorder parenting journey is long and often lonely. But, RAD parents, there is hope—even if your version of hope and success looks vastly different from that of another family. Speak up and seek effective help, grasp for understanding hearts and hands, and give yourself grace. You and your family are so worth it.

RAD Advocates can help you navigate parenting a child with reactive attachment disorder. Become a member.

*RAD Advocates does not endorse and cannot be held responsible for the entirety of resources included in this list. As always, we encourage parents to do their own vetting before utilizing any services or making purchases. Also, as we haven't had the chance to vet all existing resources, we encourage parents to share those that have been helpful for their families that we may have missed.

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