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151 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life
This book changed my life. My child does not respond to "traditional" disciplinary approaches. I'd tried everything short of spanking � time outs, consequences, loss of priveledges, positive reinforcement for good behavior � and NOTHING worked. After reading at least 20 parenting books and struggling to find a way to cope with my child, I...
Published on September 5, 2001

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123 of 150 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Insightful information, but poor overall advice
I probably would have given the first half of this book this book 5 stars for the authors vivid understanding and explaination of just why some children are so inflexibe and volatile. He described our own childs behaviour in explicit detail and I'm sure this information on its own is probably enough to get parents started in the right direction.
It is recommended...
Published on October 9, 2001 by Derrick


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151 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book changed my life, September 5, 2001
By A Customer
This book changed my life. My child does not respond to "traditional" disciplinary approaches. I'd tried everything short of spanking � time outs, consequences, loss of priveledges, positive reinforcement for good behavior � and NOTHING worked. After reading at least 20 parenting books and struggling to find a way to cope with my child, I discovered "The Explosive Child." What a godsend. This book provides a new way of looking at and helping "difficult" children who respond with anger and aggression when they are frustrated, and explains why traditional methods of discipline don't work with these kids. It then goes on to suggest a new method to teach kids (and their parents!) the skills they need to avoid meltdowns. While perhaps geared more toward the older child and adolescents, I think it would still be helpful to parents of preschoolers. Even if your child doesn't have major behavioral problems, it teaches great basic communication skills. I'd highly recommend it for people who work with kids, especially difficult ones.
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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for truly coping with explosiveness, October 27, 2011
By 
I read The Explosive Child after reading The Defiant Child (and attending a Douglas Riley-esque parenting class). The problem with the premise in The Defiant Child, and in most of the negative reviews on this book, is that there are many adults who cling obstinately to the belief that these children are capable of doing better than they are, and if the adult can just make said child's life difficult enough, he/she will shape up.

The problem with that line of thinking, and the subsequent "strategies" it produces, is that no matter how much I punish a child, if he/she is incapable of doing better, the issues we face will persist. It is akin to punishing a child who needs glasses for not being able to see. A much better solution all around would be to get him/her glasses.

My daughter, in the Riley worldview, would be "punishing me" or "controlling" and "manipulating." What I saw was a little girl who was so very overwhelmed by various aspects of her environment, that she had no adaptations, no ability to cope. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in a world where the way your plate is turned at dinner, or which direction your socks are facing, is so overwhelming a proposition that you lose the ability to function and/or think rationally. That's the little girl I was living with. The little girl who could blow up over the most incomprehensible thing, and for whom most of life's daily situations and frustrations were just more than she could bear.

In the calm between storms, she was (and still is) a delightful girl - funny, bright, loving, and always, always remorseful after an explosion. I knew she knew what she was doing was wrong, and moreover, she didn't want to be doing it at all. A common conversation, post-blow up, involved my baby girl, red-faced, tear soaked and shaking, saying, "Mommy, do you still love me? Even when I lose all my marbles?" What amount of punishment was going to solve that? She KNEW what she was doing was wrong, the problem was that she had no other strategies for dealing with her overwhelming frustrations.

My goal in seeking treatment for her at all in the first place was not about how I could make a phone call or waste time on the computer without her "bothering" me (actual parenting class verbiage there), but how I could soothe my daughter. If I never talked on the phone without interruption again, it would be a small price to pay to help soothe my girl - to help her cope with the stuff of life.

That's what I feel like I have gotten in this book - a set of strategies to employ, as part of a complete parenting philosophy. More importantly, it accomplishes these goals without the guiding philosophy of "I'm bigger than you, and I can inflict several different types of pain to get you to comply."

That's the best way I can describe this book: it is like getting glasses, and finally being able to see the world.
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108 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inflexiblity is the key., February 3, 2006
By 
Chuck (The Great White North) - See all my reviews
As a practicing pediatrician there are two books that have changed the way I approach behavior problems: "The Explosive Child" and Mel Levine's "A Mind at a Time." Be wary of the negative comments by reviewers as they miss the point of the book. The advice in this book is aimed a specific type of child personality. Setting clear limits and using time-out and 1-2-3 Magic that rely on removing attention when a child does something dangerous or misbehaves should always be tried first. For the stubborn, inflexible child, implementing time out often makes the situation worse. The initial infraction, like pushing a sibling, which normally would earn a time out, leads to an argument that only escalates until the child has earned enough time in time out to last past past early adulthood. The limits still need to be defined, but the approach to discipline needs to be less incendiary. The situation is often made worse by the presence of an equally inflexible adult. My favorite example is the first grader who kicked snow while waiting in line to come in from recess. It escalated, thanks in part to an inflexible vice-principal, to a three-day out of school suspension.

The best part of the book is the first section in which the author uses multiple examples to describe this personality type. Most parents are able to see their child in one of the examples. Understanding what causes the meltdowns in 90% of battle. This is the book I most commonly recommend to parents, but only after I determine that their child fits the personality type this book addresses.
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88 of 95 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful for the challenged parent of a challenged child, July 15, 2003
By 
L. Blackmore (Norwich, VT United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
For a parent trying to cope with a high-energy, difficult child, Dr. Greene's book reads like a first-aid manual. This is a life-saver. Patiently but not the least bit condescending or patronizing, he provides an intuitive and realistic methodology and framework to try "when everything else seems to have failed." He addresses a wide range of concerns (for ages toddler thru teen, for both the home and school environment), outlines the pitfalls, and compares his ideas with other parenting strategies "on the market." In doing so, he gives a frustrated parent the inspiration for a fresh start on life with a challenging child, thus rekindling and re-emphasizing the importance of the love we tend to forget in the heat of our frustrated struggle to deal with our chaotic family lives.
Dr. Greene's fundamental premise is that "explosive kids" are not deliberately being "difficult" or "attention-seeking" but, rather, are looking for and in need of our parental guidance, often desperately so. An inflexible-explosive child (his preferred term for the unofficial "syndrome" that lies behind the title of the book) may simply not have the ability (for any number for reasons, which Dr. Greene discusses in the first chapters of "Explosive Child") to deal with a given situtation, or express his or her frustration, and instead express frustration in ways that we as parents invariably find exacerbating. The scary process where our negative reaction to their behavior feeds more anxiety and frustration, leading to a meltdown, is analyzed in all its gory detail, with an emphasis on the choices we as parents can and must make to avoid the "descent into hell". Anyone who has been there will cringe with the pain of recognition of the examples he gives. While building his case for a step-by-step process intended to prevent rather than react to meltdowns he shows a tremendous degree of compassion both for our children and for us parents, as well as a clear understanding of the challenges we face on a daily basis. In straightforward language with some compelling case studies, but without ever claiming that his solutions will necessarily be easy to implement or fool-proof, he provides an invaluable contribution to our understanding of our children, our roles as parents, and the dynamics (controlled or otherwise) that exist between us.
His apparent and heartfelt belief that "difficult" children more than anything need and deserve unconditional love, and his compelling conviction that there is a way for us as parents to give them what they need in a way that gradually strenghtens the child and the family as a whole, makes this book an incredibly rewarding read. His coverage of the concept of the explosive child is comprehensive, even if his chapters on options for medication (and the worst-case scenario of institutionalization) make for scary reading for those of us who still fervently believe that we can in fact make headway without resorting to such harsh measures. We all have an ally and friend in Dr. Greene.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It changed our lives, July 1, 2003
Our relationship with our son is divided in two: before- and after-reading this book.
We had visited two specialists, and read tons of books; We had followed every piece of advice on how to educate him, how to design a schedule, how to feed him so that he would calm down. But nothing really changed until we bought The Explosive Child, about two years ago.
Dr. Green made us realize that, no matter what everybody said about the need of rigid rules when educating a child, you can't help anyone become more flexible by being intransigent. It simply does not work that way with these explosive children, and we parents know it.
This book made us see the importance of negotiating with our kid, and this approach has made him develop amazing abilities. He can make compromises and propose arrangements that are acceptable to all of us, and our relationship with him has really really improved.
He's still a difficult kid, and he'll probably always be, but that doesn't seem such a bad thing any more. We have also come to apreciate the incredibly intelligent, imaginative and creative boy that he is.
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52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book saved our family, June 2, 2004
By 
Finally somebody who understands what we live with. After several years of professionals suggesting that we just needed another parenting class, we were ready to fall apart. "The Explosive Child" acknowledges that children like mine exist and that we have to understand why they are the way they are and how we can start to bring some sanity to our lives. For desperate parents, this book is like oxygen. It provides a great template for dealing with explosive children on a day to day basis. Dr. Greene's book gave me the courage to stop accepting answers that clearly weren't in our daughter's best interest. This gave me the understanding of how to start advocating for my child. If you find yourself thinking that 'something just isn't right with my child' and 'how can I live with this behavior forever' and 'we need help because nobody understands what we live with', then this book belongs in your hands today. I am not exagerating when I say this book saved our family. We actually have hope that we can raise our child to be a happy and self-sufficient person instead of ending up dead or in jail.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Helped us stop yelling, and got RESULTS, January 12, 2006
By 
Heather Petit "hedracita" (Newark, DE United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Explosive Child (Paperback)
Honestly, we'd gotten used to living with huge hairy awful fits, daily. The meltdowns were just part of our life. So was the yelling (ours), the futile attempts to get coherence out of him when he was upset, and the endless cycle of reinforcements and consequences that just made him feel 'bad', and made us feel increasingly powerless, and never stopped the behaviors.

I spotted this book on vacation, and read it on the road. Some parts were hard to swallow at first, like dropping the consequences. But I found I couldn't argue with the logic! If it isn't working, why keep doing it? Do something else with that energy!

We're not perfect at implementing it - I still forget and start off with 'No, you can't...' and then as I see my son's brain start to lock up, I backtrack to 'Wait, wait, yes, you can, let's figure out how to make that work, we can solve this problem together!' (Quick, which basket was that???!) But even with my admittedly slow progress, my son's progress was STUNNING. We went from daily screaming fits to definite improvement (a day without any fits) in THREE DAYS. On day three, he stopped himself in mid-vaporlock and started to calm himself down on his own! He needed help to complete the process, but I was so thrilled, I cried.

Since then (now six months), we've moved to not having any big huge hairy fits at all. The fits that do happen, even when there's an additional stress (sick, allergic reaction, etc.), fits that were managable, he can almost always de-escalate himself. We've progressed steadily to moving more things into their 'normal' baskets, and we're constantly moving (if not always quite as fast as those initial few days) toward him managing himself, instead of me serving as part of his brain.

It takes work. The parenting approach has to change. Other family members have to learn how to do it, too. I hasn't always been simple (sometimes trying to figure out a good solution takes some brain power!). Still, it soon gots easier (in effort) than the exhausting cycle of yelling, frustration, and guilt (all without results). I'll take a little front-end effort if I can get results!

My son 'only' has mild sensory integration and speech delay issues, so your child doesn't need to have a major learning disability to make use of it. In fact, I am employing the general approach (teaching the skills FIRST, instead of punishing them for not having the skills) with my 13-month old twin daughters. I don't have to implement every aspect with them, to be able to use the different set of tactics to good effect.

It can be hard to give up the visceral (and none-too-mature) 'gotcha' of consequences/punishment, but the reward of a more peaceful house is more than enough payoff for me.

Read the whole thing - I needed the repetition to finally 'get' it.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I wish I could give this author a hug. This book has done more for my son than years of therapy., October 22, 2011
By 
I have a little boy who has Aspergers. Throughout his life, he has always been explosive when things didn't go his way. We have undergone years of OT, PT, behavioral therapy and speech therapy. I can honestly say that this book has made a bigger impact than all of the therapy combined. I cannot even begin to tell people how much I wish I would have found this book years ago. It would have saved years of heartbreak.

My little boy has always had a heart of gold. In the past, trying to get others to see that was difficult. Before applying the methods I learned in this book, he would explode when things didn't go his way. There was an occasion when I complimented him and told him how wonderful he was for something he had done. He responded to me that I was one of the only people who seemed to think so. He said that lots of people acted like he was bad. His comment seriously broke my heart.

At the advice of a therapist, we followed the methods in the book, "1-2-3 Magic" and also rewarded him. It didn't work. Family and friends advised things such as putting the fear of God into him, corporal punishment, extensive time-outs, etc. Some professionals told us that we needed to be more consistent. Others advised medication. There are many people out there who believe that most autistic children = poorly discipline children. I hated going to school functions and out in public because I could feel some of the parents there judging my son and me. I suppose they figured that my son came from some chaotic household. However, most of all - I hated seeing my son struggle.

The methods taught in this book really are amazing. They really do seem like common sense. It goes on the premise that all children will do well when they can. I don't know why that's such a novel idea, but it REALLY makes sense. Children hate being punished, so it makes sense that they'd avoid it if they could. It was time consuming in the beginning, but after a few months, my son has gained a lot of tools to manage his emotions. His outbursts are very rare now and when they do occur, it's very rare that he will lash out with violence or harsh words.

I was lucky that my son's new school was willing to work with us. His prior one refused and stuck with their old methods. I'm happy to report though that my son enjoys school again. He no longer is bullied. He is better able to learn. He actually enjoys school so much that when he had to miss a day due to an appointment, he was actually very sad about it. He used to love having days off. His overall self esteem has increased dramatically.

If you are used to using punishment as your usual method to discipline your children - this book may be difficult to absorb at first. It seems as though or society is heck-bent on making children pay for their crimes. It really is not necessary. I don't think my son has had to sit in a corner or lose a privilege for quite some time now. My oldest daughter is also so much happier. She doesn't feel the need to tiptoe around her brother anymore. Their bond has improved dramatically.

I am so grateful that this author didn't see explosive kids as throwaway kids and sees them for the wonderful people that they are. Too many people seem to think these kids are hopeless. I actually am so confident in this book that I honestly believe that if all children were brought up using this discipline method that we would not have nearly as many problems in our world today.
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39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Greene deserves the Nobel Peace prize for families!, August 23, 2002
By A Customer
We had been struggling with our 4 year old daughter and her increasingly violent tantrums since she was 15 months old. Implementing strategy after strategy from other parenting books and well-meaning friends/relatives who kept insisting we needed to show her "who's boss" just didn't seem to work and in some cases accelerated the behaviors we were trying to avoid.
This book, outlining Dr. Greene's approach, is a God send -- I actually cried tears of happiness when I read it the first time -- it was such a relief to find someone who actually understood!Within 1 week of reading this book at the recommendation of a Child Psychologist we turned to for help, (who described her as "mildly ODD, and very bright") my daughter had had only 1 tantrum during that week (compared with several daily, previously). Within 6 weeks, she had been tantrum free for a month.
Dr. Greene's philosophy -- that kids do well if they can, and that their explosions are not bids for attention -- is completely the opposite of what all of the other so-called experts are saying. Well, I can attest to the fact that his ideas worked and the others did not (at least for our family).
However, there is one caveat -- you have to be open-minded and willing to alter your belief system about parent-child relationships: I had to accept the fact that I had to let go of pre-conceived notions first in order for my child to change. I also notice that when I am stressed or tired and fall back into old patterns, my daughter's behavior deteriorates. It is not easy to stay with this, but as Dr. Greene says, you're already working hard doing it your way, why not try something else? Believe me -- it's worth the effort!
I think parents should be issued this book as an "Owner's Manual" at birthing classes at the hospital! All children can benefit from growing up in a positive environment where these principles are in place.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some people just don't get it!, June 26, 2001
By A Customer
Different folks get different things from this book. We got a new family. I'm amazed that some people think this book is about letting difficult kids do whatever they want. Such a view misses the point completely, although it's true: when you have an explosive child, there are some things you just have to let go (that you wouldn't let go with an ordinary child). But this book is mostly about helping adults teach explosive kids how to problem-solve more effectively and tolerate frustration more adaptively. It's hard work...but well worth the effort! My kid is proof!
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