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The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children Paperback – January 19, 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 432 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

A groundbreaking approach to understanding and parenting children who frequently exhibit severe fits of temper and other intractable behaviours, from a distinguished clinician and pioneer in this field, now updated to include the most recent research.

Almost everyone knows an explosive child, one whose frequent, severe fits of temper leave his or her parents standing helpless in their fear, frustration, and guilt. Most of these parents have tried everything—reasoning, behaviour modification, therapy, medication—but to no avail. They wonder if their child is deviant or just plain bad.

Dr. Ross Greene has worked with thousands of explosive children, and he has good news: these kids aren't bad, and neither are their parents. Rather, explosive children suffer from a physiological deficiency in frustration tolerance and flexibility. Throughout this compassionate book, Dr. Greene demonstrates why traditional treatments don't work for these kids and offers a new conceptual framework for understanding their behaviour, along with new language to describe it. He explains the latest neuroscience findings about the importance of flexibility, and, most important, he shows parents specific, practical ways they can recognize the signs of an impending explosion, defuse tension, and reduce frustration levels for the entire family.

  • For parents, psychologists, educators and ADHD groups.
  • In addition to the scientific foundation of the book, Greene addresses parents in practical ways that will help show results in difficult children and their effect on families.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., is Associate Clinical Professor in the department of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the originator of the Collaborative Problem Solving approach. Dr. Greene consults extensively to families, schools, and therapeutic facilities, and he lectures throughout the world.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 314 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Revised Updated edition (January 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061906190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061906190
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (432 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
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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