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The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children Paperback – January 23, 2001


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About the Author

Ross W. Greene, Ph.D. is Director of Cognitive-Behavioral Psychology at the Clinical and Research Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He lives outside Boston with his wife and daughter.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; 2nd edition (January 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060931027
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060931025
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (460 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

This book has helped me understand what is like to be my child.
Bernadine M. Messner
Have gotten many good ideas and parenting strategies to use to help the child and the parent better communicate and get along.
Nancy Gray
He loses control over the smallest things at times and this book is about kids who are just like him.
Mom of Two

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

210 of 215 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 27, 2011
Format: Paperback
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.
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187 of 200 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
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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57 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Heather Petit on January 12, 2006
Format: 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.
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150 of 167 people found the following review helpful By Chuck on February 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
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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