As as family, we've tried all of the conventional approaches to handling our willful 4-year-old: punishment/reward, swat on the bottom, physical restraint (or football carry out of the establishment), yelling back, walking away and letting her cry it out, withholding her favorite toys, bribing... the gamut. And, like most parents in the books, they left us feeling depleted and like a terrible parent. The inner dialogue also went through the usual: she's too spoiled, she's testing us, we have to show her who's boss, etc. But such thoughts totally conflicted with my child's otherwise sweet, pleasing nature. I picked up this book hoping there was another method, another explanation for why these outbursts existed.
Sure enough: This is an amazing resource for a wholly different, empathetic approach. It actually works! I've not yet mastered the art of Plan B, but the shift in mentality has already been instrumental. Even just asking my child, "why are you doing that?" has yielded problem-solving answers. For example, rather than me just telling my daughter to stop shaking the folding table and undergoing a power struggle, I asked, "why are you shaking that?" Her answer? "I wanted to dance with it." Wouldn't have guessed that one! When I proposed she dance with her teddy bear instead, no battle was required.
I'm normally not a fan of parenting books thinking that we're all just winging it and that nobody can tell us how best to handle our unique children, but the solid psychology in this one is too good to ignore. Its practical, actionable plans are solid and work: neither the child nor parent takes the brunt of the blame. I also love any book that explains how WE can change as parents, rather than teaching us how to change them. "The Explosive Child" is well deserving of its positive reviews.