Blog Archive

Santa Lucia Day: How We Celebrate

One of our favorite family traditions every holiday season is to celebrate Christmas traditions from around the world with our kids. 

Each year we add another holiday to the calendar and prepare to go all out with our celebration. The kids look forward to it every year.

This year we added Santa Lucia Day to our calendar.  Boy oh boy was Princess excited.  

She has wanted to celebrate this holiday every year since she learned about it.

There was a reason I had waited though.

Santa Lucia Day definitely takes a bit of planning and preparation. 

When you have kids with diverse needs and special dietary needs, it becomes even more of a challenge.

But we did it and it was a HUGE success! 

Here's how we celebrate Santa Lucia Day!

Santa Lucia Day: How We Celebrate

 How We Celebrate Santa Lucia Day


The first challenge of celebrating Santa Lucia Day was to find the dress/attire for each of the kids.

The oldest daugther usually plays the part of Santa Lucia, but in some families girls in the family take turns. 

Santa Lucia wears a a white dress with a red ribbon and wreath of candles on her head.  

Santa Lucia Day Procession at Home

Boys can dress up as Star Boys and walk in procession behind Santa Lucia with candles. All boys, young and old can wear Star Boy hats. Y

Younger boys usually where a white gown or robe. Older boys and men may wear white pants and shirt.

Santa Lucia Day Attire for Boys and Girls

In our family Dinomite opted for the pants and shirt, while Bulldozer chose to wear a robe. Surprisingly, both boys were excited to wear the Star Boy hats.  I can't say that I expected that.  Lol.

Santa Lucia Day Attire for Boys and Girls in the Light

So I'm guessing you're wondering where in the world we found all of this stuff. I'm not going to lie, it was a bit of a challenge.  Here are our favorite finds!

Where to Find Clothing for Santa Lucia Day

The Crown
Our Santa Lucia Crown with candles was purchased from a Scandanavian shop in Kansas of all places. 

It's made of plastic, which means you really need to be gentle with it. But it definitely did the job. I love that it's adjustable so as my girls grow, the crown can still work.

If your oldest daughter is still too small for a real crown, the Scandanavian shop also has the most adorable crowns for babies and toddlers!

The Wreath
The candles are suppposed to be in a wreath, not just a crown. 

To remedy this we ordered a beautiful hairband from Amazon that we wrapped around the gold crown for the desired effect. 

I love that the hairband was adjustable as Princess has a really small head for her age.

The Dress
We used a white nightgown from Amazon for Princess to wear as Santa Lucia. We then picked up red ribbon from the store.

Star Boy Hat
To find hats that would fit my boys, I went to Etsy. Mindful Stitching has beautiful felt Star Boy hats that can be used for kids and adults. Both my husband and Dinomite could wear the hats with no folds. With folds, the possibilites are endless for younger kids.

White Robe 
Bulldozer's white robe is a white choir robe I found on Amazon. It worked perfectly for him! 

White Pants
Dinomite's pants were also from Amazon.  He found them to be very comfortable.

Candle Holder
Dinomite is quite sensitive to fire, so we wanted to find a candle holder that he could feel comfortable with. The candle holders that we chose from Amazon, have handles on them so Dinomite was okay with them.

Once again, to help Dinomite, I was able to find some wonderful dripless, smokeless candles from Amazon to use in the candle holders. Not worrying about the smoke or wax dripping, did wonders for Dinomite.

Santa Lucia with her Breakfast Tray


Once we had our outfits all sorted out, it was time to figure out how we were going to pull off the food aspect of the holiday with all of our special dietary needs.

Typically saffron bread or Santa Lucia buns are served with coffee for the occasion. 

We don't drink coffee.

My kids won't eat anything with saffron in it.

And some of us are gluten and dairy free.

So, instead we went with the most delicious cinnamon rolls that fit all our special dietary needs from Gluten-Free Palate, served with allergy friendly hot-cocoa, which everyone enjoyed.

If you would like other more traditional ideas for Santa Lucia Day, be sure to check out our Santa Lucia Day Activities, Free Printables and More! post on the blog.

Our hot cocoa was served from our PB teapot on our PB serving tray. (Our tray is holiday themed, but that is no longer available.)

Santa Lucia Serving Breakfast

Our Santa Lucia Day procession and breakfast were a big success.  

We continued our day learning more about the Santa Lucia Day, and then ended the evening with a delicious Swedish meal!

Swedish Dinner on Santa Lucia Day

My kids had never had Swedish meatballs before. My husband and I were thrilled when EVERYONE loved them. The mashed potatoes and green beans on the side made for such a delicious dinner.

We used the Swedish Christmas meatballs recipe from Sourdough and Olives and then prepared the gravy recipe from Savory Nothings to go with them for people who wanted it. (I'm a gravy person, so I needed gravy.  Lol.)

The kids have already requested that we have this meal every year on Santa Lucia Day and can't wait to add more traditional dishes to the feast!

With a bit of planning and preparation, you too can have a fantastic Santa Lucia Day.  It turned out to be such a special holiday for us filled with so many happy memories. We hope it can be the same for you!

If you enjoyed his post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
Santa Lucia Day Activities and Free Printables Saint Nicholas Celebration Ideas Montessori-inspired Winter Holidays Around the World Printable Pack

Santa Lucia Day: How We Celebrate

Read More »

How Do You Work with a Broken Mental Health System?

 After writing my last post about residential centers, I reached out to local supports for advice. 

One directed me to contact someone in a higher position of power. 

So I did.

This person made a decision to try to help in any way she could.

As a result of her actions, we learned that things are much worse for Sunshine than we thought. 

So much in fact that all parties are trying to get her out of the residential treatment center (RTC) where she currently resides. 

We are devastated as parents. 

We sent Sunshine to an RTC for help and treatment. Instead the opposite has occurred.

How do you work with a broken mental health system?

How Do You Work with a Broken Mental Health System?

A Glimpse of the Broken System

Due to legal contracts between states, we can't just go and pick Sunshine up.

Instead we wait for all parties in both states to sort out what happens next.

Apparently we are the exception to the rule in cases like this. 

Most parents decide to just relinquish their rights.

They're done and just can't fight anymore.

We will not do that.

Sunshine is our daughter. 

She deserves a loving family, just like every other child on this planet.

She may not be able to live at home with us due to safety reasons, but that doesn't mean we still can't love her unconditionally, support her treatment and healing process, and advocate for her in ways that othes can't along the way.

If she was a warrant of the state, she'd have no one.

The Unknowns

There are so many unknowns right now.

Will she be transferred to another residential treatment center?

Where will the new residential treatment center be?

Will she be sent home?

All of these questions lead to more questions.

If she is transferred to another RTC, when and how will that occur?

What will be our role in that?

If we are to go and get her, how do we keep all of our children safe?

When will we need to leave?

What can we even expect from Sunshine at this point?  

The safety of all of our children, including Sunshine is our top priority.

Keeping custody of Sunshine is also of the utmost importance.

What's Being Done?

Our community supports are working around the clock to try to find a solution that meets the needs of all in our family.

Sunshine needs help. 

Her needs are severe.

Applications to as many RTCs as we can think of are being sent out on a daily basis.

There appears to be a new program where residential treatment can occur in the home. We would have a team working with our family with staff in our home forty hours a week. 

Sunshine may qualify for this program. There may be an opening. We just don't know. 

Our community supports are working on this.

In the event that an in-home residential program is possible, it still takes time for everything to be put in place.

The Worst Case and Most Likely Scenario

If the state where Sunshine currently resides revokes the interstate contract, we will have five days to go and pick Sunshine up. 

After that five days, if we have not picked her up, she will become a warrant of the state, and we will face abandonment charges.

We are preparing to leave at a moment's notice, if and when that call comes.

Due to Sunshine's severe needs and behaviors, she can not return to our home without the necessary supports, or we risk charges of endangering the welfare of our children.

So, just like last fall, if and when we do pick Sunshine up, Sunshine will be taken to a local hotel to stay. 

My husband and I will take turns being with her, while the rest of the family remains at home.

The hotel will be in close proximity to the sherriff's office and the hospital in the event that she is in crisis and we need help immediately.

We are so thankful that we do not have to worry about COVID-19 this time around. Both my husband and I are vaccinated.

We don't know yet if Sunshine's current severity is a result of what's going on in the RTC, or if she's even more unstable than she was the last time she was at home, needing psychiatric hospitalization.

Preparations for every scenario are underway.

Helpless doesn't begin to describe how we feel as parents right now.

My daugther desperately needs long term psychiatric help, yet this option doesn't appear to exist.

If it does, we haven't found it yet.

Meanwhile we continue to figure out how to work with a broken mental health system, paving the way for change.

It is beyond frustrating and so incredibly hard.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers. 

Sunshine needs help.

We desperately want her to receive that help.

The right help needs to be found immediately.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.

Goodbye Sunshine Talk about Residential Treatment Centers What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder Amen Clinic Brain Scans with FREE Social Story Our Pediatric Mental Health Crisis Wha I'd Wish I'd Known About My Child's Mood Disorder Med Changes A Safety Plan for Mental Health 10 Ways to Help Family with Special Needs Children 4 Steps to Managing Aggressive Behaviors
How Do You Work with a Broken Mental Health System?

Read More »

It's Time to Have a Serious Talk about Residential Treatment Centers

It's time to have a serious talk about residential treatment centers.

Seven months have passed since Sunshine was admitted to her second residential treatment center (RTC) after homocidal thoughts and behaviors at home.

To experience the trauma of a residential placement a second time has been a horror worst than the first.

There are two songs that I shared with Sunshine when she was in residential the first time to help her remember I'm fighting for her and that I will not forget her. I play them often.

The first is Don't Give Up On Me by Andy Grammer. 

The second song is What About Us from Pink.

These songs helped me have the courage to write this post tonight.

Please be warned it may be very triggering for some.

It's Time to Have a Serious Talk about Residential Treatment Centers

Our First Residential Treatment Experience

During Sunshine's first time in an RTC, I fought HARD to make sure her needs were being met.  

And by HARD I mean HARD.

It was a constant uphill battle.

I was consulting a lawyer.

I was constantly in communication with the RTC caseworker and administration, as well as our community caseworker demanding Sunshine's needs be met.

There were many times I was in direct contact with the insurance company, working with them to ensure that the RTC was providing Sunshine all that she was entitled to.  

I spent many days studying contracts the insurance company had with the RTC.

This was all on top of being very involved with Sunshine's treatment on a daily basis with her therapist and others that worked with her.

Sunshine deserves the BEST treatment, just like every other child who is trapped in this broken system.

I was determined to make that happen for her until she could return home to us.

The Results of My Fight

The representative from the insurance company called me after Sunshine's case was closed (after the first RTC) to let me know that because of my work to help Sunshine, I had caused systemic change throughout the entire state of Virginia that was already helping other families.

Today when speaking with our community caseworker about the first RTC experience (she was by my side the entire way), she called me a Trail Blazer for systemic change in a broken system.

But the truth of the matter is, fighting HARD is HARD work. 

It's exhausting. 

It comes with a huge price.

So many sacrifices were made.  You may remember I didn't blog for about a year!

And so, this time, during Sunshine's second RTC placement, I decided not to be as fierce.  

The reputation that comes with creating systemic change is not one I enjoyed. 

I was so worried it was hurting Sunshine.

I couldn't keep fighting at the intensity I was before, and still provide for my family. 

Advocating for Sunshine took all that I had.

A Mother's Grief

When Sushine returned home after that first placement and things went downhill, there was a big part of me that felt like a failure because after all I'd done, nothing worked. 

Sunshine couldn't remain at home.

Perhaps if I had just let people do their jobs in the first RTC the way they wanted to, things would have turned out better?

Perhaps I don't know Sunshine's needs as much as I thought I did, and only caused more damage?

Perhaps I'm not a good parent, and this is all my fault?

I was broken when Sunshine entered her second RTC.

Unless you've experienced what I have, you can't begin to understand what something like this does to a mother. 

Doing Things Differently

For six months while Sunshine was at the second RTC, I played nice. 

I tried not to ruffle feathers.

I worked hard to go along with whatever the therapist and treatment team thought was right.

I trusted that they knew better than I did.

I gave everyone at the RTC the benefit of the doubt. 

After all, I knew how hard Sunshine is sometimes. 

I know what she's capable of. 

I know how dangerous she can become. 

(This is not her fault, it's just how her brain works right now, which is the whole reason she needs help!)

And you know what?

There has been no improvement.

Behaviors have worsened.

Sunshine isn't receiving the supports she needs.

Her IEP has not been followed.

Our local school district hasn't received a single progress report about Sunshine from the school at the RTC, nor have we, which is against the law.

Even the funding source of her treatment has not received the paperwork they've requested from the second RTC.

Heck! We don't even know if Sunshine has the proper medical insurance right now, or that her medical needs are being met, because no one will call us or our community case worker back.


It Gets Worse!

At Sunshine's six month treatment team meeting administration initiated the topic of how they felt Sunshine was close to receiving maximum benefits of treatment, and that the RTC she is in, may no longer be the best fit for her.

Basically it was a fancy way of saying they're sick of her and ready to kick her out.

And yes, residential treatment centers can do this. 

They do so all the time.

Administration has given us no time line as to when this is happening, but Sunshine's therapist told us that if it will take longer than thirty days to find Sunshine another placement, we need to start now.

So many RTCs will only permit a three to six months stay now, and so those who need a longer course of treatment are only getting worse bouncing from place to place.

Despite our community based team offering funding for more supports, the second RTC has declined providing any further individualized help and support for Sunshine.

This is an absolute nightmare.

Our community based team has stated that under no circumstance can Sunshine return home as she has not improved and is still a danger to family members. 

In the event that we would go against this advice and bring Sunshine home, (which we won't), we could be charged with endangering the welfare of our other children. 

So realistically speaking, it is against the law for us to bring Sunshine home right now.

To further complicate things, Sunshine is not ready for a step down to a group home, so she needs to be transferred to another RTC.

No RTC in the state of Virginia will accept her because of the severity of her case. 

We've exhausted so many options already. There have been so many RTCs that have said no throughout the entire U.S. because of the severity of her case.

There are two exceptions with wait lists, but the waitlists are months long.  

Sunshine has been on one waitlist for seven months already. 

The other wait is a minimum of two months.

So literally, there is no place for Sunshine to go. 

And even if she goes to one of these places, who's to say it's not worse than where she is now?!

We've tried arranging a meeting with the RTC two times in the last month and they've not even responded to our requests. 

Our community based team has tried to arrange a meeting about Sunshine with the RTC, and they are having no luck.

Sunshine's Suffering

Meanwhile Sunshine continues to suffer.

The one time I did step in and fight hard during this second RTC stay was when Sunshine continued to show up to therapy sessions and ZOOM visits with new bruises EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. 

And I'm not talking small bruises. 

There have been black eyes.

There have been black and blue finger prints on her arms. 

Her lower arms are constantly covered with large bruises.

There have been bruises on her head.

Administration never got back to me about findings over some of these big bruises early on in her stay, despite my constant requests for more information.

They did promise daily body checks with calls to report what's going on and followed through for a little while.

Many bruises were from peers. Some were from staff.

But then there was silence again.

Silence didn't equal less bruises though.

The only calls we receive now are when Sunshine has been restrained or injuries are severe.

It's been a nightmare speaking with nursing staff several times over the past week and a half as Sunshine has been put in holds by staff eight times in ten days. 

One incident came with a report that staff had left bruises on Sunshine.

Yesterday I broke down with the nurse on the phone. 

I've decided I can't stay silent any longer.

Since when is it okay for a child to be physically abused in any way? 

If the continued bruising we're seeing on Sunshine occurred while she was at home, you better bet you Child Protective Services would be involved immediately.

Why is it not okay for things like this to happen at home, but totally fine that these things happen to a child in a residential treatment center?

(We did launch an investigation during Sunshine's first RTC stay because of these issues as well.)

Nothing that's happening to Sunshine is even close to being okay!

Children Deserve Better!

ALL children deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, having their individual needs being met in every setting.

ALL autistic children should be receiving supports they need to be successful each day, NOT just behavioral training to teach them not to be autistic.  

ALL children with Reactive Attachment Disorder deserve the very best treatment that promotes attachment to family, without further neglect and abuse.

Did I mention we're not even allowed to call Sunshine at this RTC? 

It's her responsibility when permitted (about two times a week), no matter what she's in the middle of, to stop everything and call us. 

For a child who's documented to have issues with transitions, this is a fail almost every time.

ALL children who suffer with severe mental health illness deserve early intervention and the best pediatric treatment to help them reach stability and success, no matter how severe their symptoms

If mental health issues of the brain were treated as a physical illness like cancer, denial of treatment is illegal.

Severe mental health issues in children are real and they deserve people's attention.

Just because Sunshine is in a residential setting does not mean she is any less of a person or child than anyone else.

Our system is so so so broken.

For children like Sunshine with autism, Reactive Attachment Disorder and a mood disorder, there is nothing. 

Watching Sunshine suffer like she is has been the most painful experience I've ever had to endure.

And Sunshine is not the only one this is happening to.

If you've read this far, please help us! 

Help spread the word that this is real and happening to children in the U.S. and everywhere else.

Change will not occur until enough people decide it's necessary.

In order for that to happen, people have to know that it is happening and want to do something about it.

And if this hasn't touched your heart, consider the path that Sunshine is on right now.

Where does it lead?

If no one is willing to help her...

If no one does help her...

Where does she end up?

I should not have to prepare myself to love a child who resides in juvenile detention or prison because no one will help her.

This isn't right!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.

  Goodbye Sunshine Our Pediatric Mental Health Crisis What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder To Be a Mother of a Young Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder How to Discipline a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder Must Have Safety Resources When Parenting a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder From the Mother of a Bully It's Time to Have a Serious Talk About Autism 5 Ways to Connect with an Autistic Child When You're Apart 4 Steps to Managing Aggressive Behaviors Anger Management for Kids Four Prompts to Encourage Mindfulness in Children
It's Time to Have a Serious Talk about Residential Treatment Centers

Read More »

How to Solve Addition Fraction Problems Visual FREE Printable

We continue our journey with fractions now that the three kiddos have memorized all of their math facts and feel comfortable utilizing those skills in multiple ways.

Princess and Dinomite are grasping fraction concepts quite easily, but Bulldozer is REALLY struggling with how to solve addition fraction problems.

The parts he has the most difficulties with are deciding how to make denominators equal and then what to do with the numerators. He often confuses which number to multiply them by.

I was hoping that with continued practice Bulldozer would learn the steps, but he hasn't.  Even the use of Montessori fraction materials isn't doing it for him.

A couple of weeks ago he asked for a control chart to help.  

This FREE visual printable is the result!

How to Solve Addition Fraction Problems

How to Solve Addition Fraction Problems

There are many ways to solve addition fraction problems.  

I want to make it clear that the techniques used in this printable are not the only ways to do so. 

The techniques in this printable best follow the Montessori approach presented in the elementary math albums and meet Bulldozer's need for simple, concise, step-by-step directions. 

If your student is struggling, we hope that you find it beneficial as well.

There are four simple steps for each and every addition fraction problem. 

In some cases, Bulldozer will only have to work through step one and he's done.

In other problems he'll need to work through step two. 

When steps one and two don't work, he moves on to steps three and four.

Fractions: Addition Clip Cards Printable Pack

Fractions: Addition Clip Cards Printable Pack

The FREE How to Solve Addition Fractions Problem Visual is designed for use with the Fractions: Addition Clip Cards Printable Pack. The freebie covers all concepts introduced within this wonderful set of clip cards your students are sure to enjoy!

In order to obtain your copy of the FREE How to Solve Addition Fractions Problem Visual, be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter by following the directions below. The How to Solve Addition Fraction Problems Visual is a subscribers only freebie.

Directions on How to Obtain Subscriber Only Freebies

1. Click on the Subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.

2. Subscribe to our free newsletter.

3. Open the thank you message you receive after subscribing. (Be sure to check your spam folder, as sometimes it ends up there.)

4. Click the confirmation link in the thank you message.

5. Once the confirmation is complete, you will receive another message with the Subscriber Only Freebies Link and Password.

6. Click on link and type in password. (The password is cap sensitive.)

7. Find the printable pack you are looking for listed in alphabetical order, click on it, and viola!

We hope you enjoy your free printable.

Note: If you are already a newsletter subscriber, open your most recent newsletter. At the bottom you will find a link to the Subscriber Only Freebies page, along with the password in case you forgot it.

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the resources below.
Introduction to Fractions How to Reduce Fractions How to Change an Improper Fraction into a Mixed Number Fraction Reduction Chart Montessori-inspired Intro to Fractions Printable Pack Fractions: Equivalence Clip Cards Printable Pack Fractions: Reduction Clip Cards Printable Pack Improper Fractions & Mixed Numbers Clip Cards Printable Pack Fractions: Subtraction Clip Cards Printable Pack Fractions: Multiplication Clip Cards Printable Pack Fractions: Division Clip Cards Printable Pack
Read More »

Reactive Attachment Disorder and Puberty

Puberty can be a very hard and scary time to navigate for caregivers of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Due to hormone changes, growth spurts and brain development, the brain and body revert back to what they were like as a newborn and infant, needing to relearn basic skills all over again.

With that reset comes the need for the brain to work through past trauma all over again. 

The longer it took for the trauma to end, the longer this difficult time period can last.

Behaviors can become quite scary. 

What a caregiver thought the child had worked through and moved past, may come back in full force or worse.

Reactive Attachment Disorder and Puberty

This has occurred with Princess and was scariest earlier this year when she wanted to take her own life.

It has also occurred with Sunshine as she goes through precocious puberty. She became homicidal with a significant increase in aggressions and assaults towards others

This is why she is currently in residential treatment.

How do you navigate Reactive Attachment Disorder during puberty?

Navigating Physical Health during Puberty with Kids Who Have Reactive Attachment Disorder

Physical Health

Whether a child has Reactive Attachment Disorder or not, puberty is extremely hard on the body. There are so many changes that take place. So much growth occurs at an extremely fast pace.

We often hear the word “awkward” as a description of the body during puberty, and it’s true! The body is literally learning how to work all over again.

With all of our children who have diverse needs, we’ve observed that during puberty, all of the same struggles they had as infants and toddlers have returned.

When Princess came to our home she did not know how to use her body correctly. She spent a long time in physical therapy.

Over the last year we’ve seen her gross motor skills deteriorate in significant ways. Princess is no longer able to do so many things that she was able to do correctly before.

The biggest red flag was when we gave her rollerblades for Christmas and she couldn’t stand up straight in them.

She has also developed Sever’s disease which complicates things further.

Due to Reactive Attachment Disorder, Princess was not communicating that she was pushing through pain and making accommodations with her body to compensate for lost skills. These accommodations caused more harm than good.

She has been in physical therapy for a few months now and will continue until her body is working correctly again. Progress is slow but steady.

If you notice regression of skills and especially if your preteen/teen with Reactive Attachment Disorder complains of unexplained pain, make an appointment with her pediatrician immediately.

Don’t hesitate to request physical therapy or at least an evaluation done by a physical therapist to determine what’s going on.

If your child worked with a physical therapist as an infant or toddler, there’s a good chance they’ll need to do it again.

Please also know that injuries like broken bones are completely normal during puberty. As the body changes rapidly, the bones have a part to play too, which makes them extremely vulnerable.

Diet during Puberty with Reactive Attachment Disorder


When Princess came to us as an infant, she had some significant issues related to food. These issues resulted in her needing an endoscopy and allergy testing. Eosinophils were discovered during the endoscopy. Further blood work and allergy testing confirmed allergies and intolerances.

Over time Princess’ gut healed and she grew out of her food sensitivities and allergies.

Fast forward to now, during puberty, and gut issues have returned. We are thankful to say that allergies have not reared their ugly head again, but intolerances and sensitivities have definitely made themselves known.

Princess has now returned to a gluten free diet which has made a tremendous difference with her body functions and her moods.

She tried gluten again over this past weekend, just to see what would happen. Sure enough she became ill AND crashed emotionally.

If you notice significant irritability, mood swings, and rapid, unexpected changes in eating habits, do not hesitate to consult your child’s pediatrician or discuss dietary changes with your child in an effort to help.

If your child is resistant to recommendations, let the pediatrician take the lead and document, document, document!

Amen Clinic identified a part of Sunshine’s brain that was being affected by her diet during her brain scans last summer.

The psychiatrist prescribed her a gluten free, corn free, soy free, dairy free, sugar free diet, because the impact of her diet was so significant.

We could not believe the changes in behaviors when we implemented their recommendations. It didn’t change everything, but helped significantly with her overall health and wellness, which led to an improvement in behaviors.

We often think about diet as one of the last reasons for changes in behavior, but during puberty, it’s definitely one of the first things you want to consider.

Mental Health during Puberty with Reactive Attachment Disorder

Mental Health

It would be absolutely wonderful to see consistent progress with attachment and behaviors through puberty with children who have Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Unfortunately, no matter how much progress has been made, there will be regression during this time.

If a family hasn’t experienced a mental health crisis before puberty, it’s very common for the first one to occur around that time.

If things have been consistently rough, be prepared for things to get worse.

For how long you ask?

That depends on how long your child endured trauma during those early years. 

It may also depend on how long it takes to find the correct medication regime if required.

When the brain resets at puberty, it has to work through past trauma in an entirely new way that matches how the newly developed brain works.

If you’re struggling to understand this, just think about the end of the movie Inside Out when the old control panel is replaced with the new one. There are so many new buttons for the emotions to learn how to use. Not to mention, Riley’s whole view on life has changed.

How do you navigate this time of regression?

Expect it.

Plan on it.

Have resources in place and ready to go!

At home, make sure you have all of the necessary safety protocols in place and working efficiently. You will need them.

If you don’t have a mental health therapist already, do your research and find one that can help.

In areas where that may not be possible, or isn’t the right fit (mental health therapy equals trauma for Princess), now may be the perfect time for the caregiver to start therapy. I can’t tell you how beneficial it has been for both my husband and me during this time.

In our home, Sunshine had in-home emergency mental health services leading up to her residential stay.

When Princess became suicidal, we contacted her pediatrician who met regularly with her to determine a need for medications and/or other services.

We attempted to obtain in-home emergency mental health services but it took forever due to insurance complications and COVID-19. Instead we found a program through our church that we did as a family that helped significantly.

When things hit the fan during puberty with your child who has Reactive Attachment Disorder, please remember nothing is your fault. You are not going crazy. This is tough stuff!

As abnormal as it feels, it’s completely normal.

It’s to be expected.

Even if you’ve done everything right up to this point, things are going to fall apart.


Have faith and confidence. You will make it through this.

At the same time be realistic. This is not something that you can do by yourself.

The best case scenario is that your child with Reactive Attachment Disorder and you will need some great therapy.

Worst case scenario, your child may become so unsafe that she is unable to live in the home for a while for safety reasons.

I’ve experienced both scenarios and have lived to tell the tale. You can too!

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder Our Pediatric Mental Health Crisis What NOT to Do with a RAD Child How to Discipline a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder A Safety Plan for Mental Health 4 Steps to Managing Aggressive Behaviors One Sure Way to Help Your Child Work Through Emotions

Reactive Attachment Disorder and Puberty

Read More »