The Explosive Child

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A book review of The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.

A book review of The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene, Ph.D.

Stars: *****

Harper Collins (2021 – 6th edition, 1998 originally)
Parenting>Conflict Management
272 pages

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Summary: What’s an explosive child? A child who responds to routine problems with extreme frustration—crying, screaming, swearing, kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, destroying property, and worse. A child whose frequent, severe outbursts leave his or her parents feeling frustrated, scared, worried, and desperate for help. Most of these parents have tried everything-reasoning, explaining, punishing, sticker charts, therapy, medication—but to no avail. They can’t figure out why their child acts the way he or she does; they wonder why the strategies that work for other kids don’t work for theirs; and they don’t know what to do instead.

Dr. Ross Greene, a distinguished clinician and pioneer in the treatment of kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, has worked with thousands of explosive children, and he has good news: these kids aren’t attention-seeking, manipulative, or unmotivated, and their parents aren’t passive, permissive pushovers. Rather, explosive kids are lacking some crucial skills in the domains of flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving, and they require a different approach to parenting.

Throughout this compassionate, insightful, and practical book, Dr. Greene provides a new conceptual framework for understanding their difficulties, based on research in the neurosciences. He explains why traditional parenting and treatment often don’t work with these children, and he describes what to do instead. Instead of relying on rewarding and punishing, Dr. Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving model promotes working with explosive children to solve the problems that precipitate explosive episodes, and teaching these kids the skills they lack.

The Explosive Child

It’s important to note that I was reading the third edition. The basis of the book is “children do well if they can.” The book is for parents with kids who explode with anger or frustration. They may also have a diagnosis such as ADHD, ODD, OCD or something else. But they don’t have to have a diagnosis for this book to be helpful. If your child is often angry and lashes out in anger or has breakdowns, this book is for you.

I wish I had read this book before and I’m probably going to read parts of it again. Reading it of course is one thing and implementing the ideas in it are another. My relationship with my child will not magically be better because I read a book. The hard part is implementing Plan B when I can. You’ll have to read the book for more details but basically Plan A is implementing my will, no discussion. Plan C is giving in, deciding not to fight about it. Plan B is collaborative problem solving. It’s hard to get in the hang of doing and it takes time.

In addition to teaching this strategy, the book covers skills your child may lack and how you can help them learn them. Also triggers are discussed. We are encouraged to make a list of triggers for our specific child so we can better make a plan. There is a chapter on meds but it’s a small chapter and meds are not pushed on your. They are right for some kids but many kids just need retraining.

An important distinction this book makes is that punishment doesn’t help because the child already KNOWS they aren’t supposed to be doing said thing and that you are disappointed in them. Remember children do well if they can. They need help controlling their emotions and behaviours.

Highly Recommended

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.