The Explosive Child

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Flexibility and tolerance are learned skills, as any parent knows if they've seen an irascible 2-year-old grow into a pleasant, thoughtful, and considerate older child. Unfortunately, for reasons that are poorly understood, a few children don't "get" this part of socialization. Years after toddler tantrums should have become an unpleasant memory, a few unlucky parents find themselves battling with sudden, inexplicable, disturbingly violent rages--along with crushing guilt about what they "did wrong." Medical experts haven't helped much: the flurry of acronyms and labels (Tourette's, ADHD, ADD, etc.) seems to proffer new discoveries about the causes of such explosions, when in fact the only new development is alternative vocabulary to describe the effects. Ross Greene, a pediatric psychologist who also teaches at Harvard Medical School, makes a bold and humane attempt in this book to cut through the blather and speak directly to the (usually desperate) parents of explosive children. His text is long and serious, and has the advantage of covering an enormous amount of ground with nuance, detail, and sympathy, but also perhaps the disadvantage that only those parents who are not chronically tired and time-deprived are likely to get through the entire book. Quoted dialogue from actual sessions with parents and children is interspersed with analysis that is always oriented toward understanding the origins of "meltdowns" and developing workable strategies for avoidance. Although pharmacological treatment is not the book's focus, there is a chapter on drug therapies. --Richard Farr

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.

Customer Reviews:

  • Very Informative
    This book was very helpful in explaining why 1 out of 3 of my children was so much more difficult to deal with. These are principles we should apply with all our children. It's a better way to deal with others,children and adults, respectfully....more info
  • The Explosive Child
    I bought this book as I've seen it in many classrooms, it has been recommended to me, and because one of my daughters is oppositional defiant disorder/ADHD. Between this book and "The Defiant Child" (I am reading them both together) I am getting amazing insight to myself, parenting styles, and my child's thinking! These books have giving me a few more ways to work with and understand my daughter. I find them extremely valuable. ...more info
  • Enlighting
    Very easy reading material that has help me understand my daughter's behavior, what triggers her frustrutions, and what can I do to help her. Our home's environment is not as aggressive any more....more info
  • If you're looking up this book- you must buy it!
    I've never written a review before, but after reading this book last night (yes, the whole book in one sitting), I had to write to other desparate parents out there to tell them they won't regret buying this book.

    We've been dealing with "explosions" from my 5 year old son since we moved to a new town 11 months ago. I finally took him to a child psychologist a few weeks ago and after describing his behavior, she recommended this book. I stayed up really late last night reading the book and it describes my son to a TEE. I couldn't believe how accurate it is and it made me feel so much better to read about other children who act identically to him. AND to learn that it's not my parenting, it's a learning disability (according to Dr. Greene, these children have yet to learn how to deal with frustration, thus it's a learning disability but nothing that can't be taught). What's great about looking at my son's explosions this way, as opposed to him "being difficult" or "manic" or "defiant" is that I'm approaching it much more calmly and compassionately. As Dr. Greene puts it, I have to be my son's frontal lobe until he can learn to verbalize and problem solve. The book offers some great, great, great insights and advice. I already implemented one of the suggestions this morning, less than 12 hours after reading the book, and it totally worked to diffuse what was turning into an "episode" or "explosion". It ended up that my son did not get his way, but in the end, it seemed to him like he did because we solved the problem together. Normally, if my son doesn't get his way, he has a violent explosion. But by using the methods in this book (specifically Emergency Plan B), I was able to calm him down, talk rationally about the problem, and come to a satisfactory resolution for both of us. I can't wait to share this book with my husband, my son's grandparents and his preschool teachers....more info
  • A must for every adult who deals with an inflexible child!!!!!
    This well presented book offers an alternative view of children who are less flexible than most, and as a result they are more easily frustrated. Greene does an excellent job of explaining this phenomenom, as well as offering a reasonable way of dealing more effectively with children who either explode or implode as a result of their inflexibility....more info
  • no-nonsense realistic approach
    This book has a practical, no-nonsense, workable approach. As a long time teacher I've seen many approaches and been given many "fix-its" but this one is the best and really works. I also like the fact that he does not claim it's easy like so many, he's realistic and that is reassuring. ...more info
  • A Practical Guide for Parents with Children Rage Issues
    As the mother of a son with severe behaviors, this a practical guide to help parents how to deal with their children's out of control anger and rigidness. It teaches different techniques to deal with these behaviors and come to a better resolution without the inevitable meltdowns.

    It is an easy read for parents and teachers, as well as anyone that is involved with having to deal with any of these children. It is informative without getting tangled up in difficult technical jargon.

    HIGHLY RECOMMEND!...more info
  • Explosive Kids
    After reading this book I changed my approach to parenting and working with challenging behavior in my role as a school principal. The results have been excellent and I am not even good at it yet. It is an easy read and it changed my though processes in a variety of situations. I highly reccomend itto anyone dealing with the frustration of challenging behavior in kids! ...more info
  • Mohab Hanna, M.D. Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist- author of Making the Connection: A Parent's Guide to Medication in ADHD
    The explosive Child is a book that I recommend frequently to my patients. Many of the parents that I work with have found it very helpful. This book helps parents to understand the underlying problems that are leading to the exlosive behavior. ...more info
  • EXCELLENT Book! Has made a huge difference in our child!
    In a moment of desperation (our six year old son having yet another meltdown - probably the 3rd or 4th that day), I did a search on 'anger management in children' and followed a link to this book. The day it arrived, I stopped everything and began to read. My husband and I immediately began to employ the methods decribed by Dr. Greene, and within a day or two, the change in our home was amazing. Interestingly, the day after the book arrived, I broke my leg in a fall -- mobility issues have had me confined for a day here and there to the upper level of our home. This has allowed me to 'hear' but not 'see' dialogue between my husband and our son. This has been amazing -- just 'listening' to the two of them afforded me the opportunity to more easily understand how to implement Dr. Greene's methods. I could 'hear' the dynamic that he describes so well in his book, and this has made such a difference in our little boy. We have implemented Dr. Greene's methods along with a complete nutrition makeover -- While waiting for Dr. Greene's book to arrive, I read the following (all available on Amazon):1 of: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills; Food Additives: A Shopper's Guide to What's Safe & What's Not (2004 Revised Edition); Healing the New Childhood Epidemics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma, and Allergies: The Groundbreaking Program for the 4-A Disorders. With a switch to organic foods, and a complete vitamin regimen, we saw change...with the addition of Dr. Greene's 'basket approach' and his complete description of the various stages of meltdown (we now know how to handle vapor-lock), the change in our quality of homelife and our son's behavior at school is amazing. We finally feel like a 'normal' family! We understand and look for the signs of our kids (we have three) being pushed beyond their limits as far as fatigue and hunger, and we now respond proactively with very positive results. We were literally a day away from seeking help via a therapist when I searched and found this 'title'...I am so thankful we found this book.
    If the nutrition/diet changes and the methods described by Dr. Greene could make a difference in the hellish homelife we were experiencing, they can make a difference in just about anyone's. Both things (nutrition/diet and Dr. Greene's approach) work in tandem with each other. I do not think we would have achieved the results we have as quickly as we did, if at all, if both areas were not addressed....more info
  • Can relate to so much
    I was amazed when I began reading the book The Explosive Child. I am about half-way through the book so far and I have learned much already on proactive ways to approach different situations involving my difficult 4 year old son. This is extremely important. Although he has not had an official diagnosis at this time, I can relate to much of what these other families encountered while raising their chilren. I highly recommend this book to any parent who is trying to raise a child who has difficulties with change (especially), constructive criticism, and many other roadblocks in the life of a parent/child relationship. I am looking forward to continuing to study this book....more info
  • Great information!
    I have not finished this entire book. But, what I have read fits my child exactly. I can't wait to get to the part that explains what to do about the behaviors. ...more info
  • The Explosive Child: a New Approach for Understanding Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
    I highly enjoyed reading this book. The excerpts and examples were very useful and illustrated the method very well. The school where I work, a special needs school, employs this method with the children who attend our school and it really helps....more info
  • A Great Companion to Bipolar Disorder Books
    I write books on bipolar disorder treatment for adults- when someone asks me about the illness in children, I always have to admit that children are not my area of expertise. The illness manifests so differently when a child starts symptoms so young. The Explosive Child filled in a lot of grey areas in my work.

    I always tell parents to read this book for insight into why a child may be violent, can't sooth themselves, is angry, oppositional and almost always frustrated. It helps the parent have compassion for the pain they see in their children. I learned so much about self soothing difficulty and the intensity of crying the children described in this book go through. It's so different that with adults. I'm not saying that children with explosive reactions to situations have bipolar disorder- not at all, but I feel that all parents who think their child might have bipolar disorder should read this book before making any decisions. It's a much needed resource in the mental health field.

    Julie A. Fast
    ...more info
  • An Introduction to Alternatives
    You can get the gist of this book by skimming through it. It speaks to cooperative communication and problem solving with the child instead of the authoritarian approach that is so easy to fall into (do it because I say so.) The approach would be beneficial for any child. There are quite a few examples written in dialogue style to demonstrate the technique and the author talks about common mistakes made when first trying to use this method. The three main points are - show empathy, describe the problem, invite the child into finding a solution....more info
  • A new approach
    This explained why my son acts the way he does. It offered a new approach. I have used a similar but not as thorough approach that gave mixed results. This is a direct way to do things that can work....more info
  • Ideas would benefit any parent
    Introduces the concept that children do well if they can and gives good advice on how to structure interaction with any child....more info
  • The Explosive Child
    The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

    This book is an excellent resource for parents. I would even recommend it to all professionals, especially teachers who may deal with these children in the class room. It gave me hope and it let me know that I am not alone. ...more info
  • on our way to peace
    A social skills group leader suggested we work with this book while waiting for a spot for our son in the group.It's only been a few weeks, and the difference in our home is palpable. we parents have been more understanding of our son, and why he is sometimes so difficult. (turns out he isn't being difficult, he is experiencing difficulty) and he has been less explosive (he does not have all the skills he needs yet, but we see some progress already, and we know true growth must take time!)AWESOME!!!...more info
  • The Explosive Child
    This was an excellent book! The most important fact I liked was it's simplicity in understanding the problem and the journey to work through helping your child. The most interesting factor being---- I'm my child's frontal lobe--- until my child develops that part of the brain and can effectively respond to frustration.
    I have to say that I was a bit worried about reading another book of promised solutions!
    This book will not disappoint you. It gets to the point pretty quick and at the same time empathizes with us weary parents.
    I loved the fact that children were looked at as a whole child with feeling--and that yes when you child rages or fits it is the spirits gentle and consistant nudging for a cry for help!!!! Why wouldn't you empanthize first, figure out the problem and than work it out after? As long as you follow those steps without straying, you have answered your child's cry.


    The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible ChildrenGill...more info
  • Fantastic book
    This author spoke to me! I'm recommending this book to several people who have children, even if they aren't "normally explosive"!The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children...more info
  • The Explosive Child A good way to help change the explosions.
    This book offers a good way to change the explosive pattern that will help throughout your child's life. I would recommend it to all who work with these children. It's easy to understand these methods and quick to read book....more info
  • A Must-Read for Parents of Challenging Children
    Ross Greene has written an incredibly insightful book about the kids for whom traditional parenting techniques just don't work. He explains well why kids who yell, scream, and generally melt down over what seem to be -- to parents and others -- inconsequential things can't just "be flexible." And he explains well why the traditional carrot-and-stick approach of rewards and consequences just doesn't work with these kids. As a parent of a child who went from colic as an infant to tantrums as a toddler to explosions and melt downs as a child, I know what he's talking about, and I've tried all those other techniques that haven't worked. Greene lets parents see that kids who lack frustration tolerance and flexibility need extra support and a different approach to learning those skills, the way a kid with a reading disability needs extra support and a different approach to reading. It all makes so much sense, but is a great departure from the typical limit-setting approaches. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. It's really helping me to become the parent I want to be!...more info
    This book is an awesome tool to have! It has helped me and my family greatly!...more info
  • Structured and Very Helpful!
    I am a recent graduate and am now working toward licensure in Counseling Psychology. I currently work at a community mental health facility with children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults. I found this book to be a great resource for myself and the families I work with. It gives a very structured approach to the work I am already doing with my clients. This is one of the most beneficial, realistic, easy-to-understand and implement books I have bought. I will definitely be using it more with my children and families....more info
  • Help just in time
    I've been working with a great child psychiatrist and a number of psychologists and never once was introduced to these ideas. Everybody wanted to use behaviour modification and none of it worked. Now I know why and what to do about it. This book is extremely well written. The concepts are clearly presented and the technique (cooperative problem solving) clearly explained with numerous helpful examples. If your child falls into this category, you must get this book, read it cover to cover and then read it again....more info
  • Learned ALOT
    Learned alot from this book on how to deal with my little boy!...more info
  • Excellant Book
    This book is a wonderful book about raising "any" child, not just the explosive one. Very common sense. I would recommend it to any parent or grandparent. Best I have read on the subject. ...more info
  • Finally, peace and love coming home
    Our 4 years old Child Jean-Michel, was diagnosed with ADHD mid December 2008. We started medication mid January 2009 and started immediately therapy in our home with an excellent Psychologist who recommended us to read "The Explosive Child". We received our book 2 weeks ago and have not finished reading it yet, but my wife and I have started doing what the book says, lead by Jean-Michel's Doctor with very good results. Crises intensity are lowering as well as frequency, and Jean-Michel is now asking us every night if he was a good child. If it was a good day we tell him so and encourage him, but if it was a bad day, we just answer, "Tomorrow will be a better day, we are sure of that" and his answer is "yes".
    While reading the book, something that was extremely important for my wife and I was to understand that our child has a limitation handling certain situations we need to train him for, just as another child could have limitation to play baseball and would need to be train as well.
    We recommend this book together with therapy. If therapy can be at the Child's home and at crises time, much better.home and at crises time, much better.
    ...more info
  • Review on the book Explosive Child
    I think it is a very didatic book for both parents with this type of problems in their families or for professionals....more info
  • Brilliant Parenting Book
    As a consultant who helps families with special needs, I have read many parenting books, most of which are of little use, offering unhelpful and unrealistic advice. Greene's book is the opposite. He has a brilliant mind. Writing in a humorous tone despite the difficult subject, he constructs a superb argument that explains inflexible explosive children and convinces parents to deal with them appropriately. I frequently recommend this book to my clients....more info
  • So Helpful that I blogged about it!!!!
    I am a child psychiatrist who thinks this book is one every parent should read even if they don't have an explosive child!!!! [...]

    And buy this book! Enjoy. ...more info
    We bought this book for help with our special needs son who has ADHD and mood disorder, and nonverbal learning disorder. He has very rigid thinking which makes homework and school difficult. This book gives you methods for getting around these problems to help your child succeed....more info
  • The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
    Wonderful Book. Easy to read and understand. Has many great insights into the the thinking of these children. Have gotten many good ideas and parenting strategies to use to help the child and the parent better communicate and get along. It is really important to understand that parenting this type of child is not done with the traditional methods....more info
  • A great guide for parents struggling with an explosive child!
    I was pleasantly surprised by the straightforward approach to this book. Instead of a psychobabble, Dr. Greene explains potential reasons your child may be struggling to control his/her outbursts in language a layperson can understand. More importantly, we found very practical, effective help for dealing with these frustrating explosions that have become very disruptive to our family. I feel hopeful after reading this book that we can finally help our child deal with the frustrations of life in a healthy, appropriate manner. If you are looking for solutions without thousands of dollars in therapy and medication that may not be warranted for your child (although sometimes it certainly is), I would highly recommend this book....more info
  • Ever wish your kids came with instructions?
    I have an 11 year-old son who has been clinically diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder as well as ADHD. I have wondered for most of my son's life what was wrong. I thought the struggles were my fault at first. Then I thought I just had a willful child on my hands.
    As I started reading this book, I came to realize that I am not alone. In fact, I felt like I was reading a perfect spot-on description of my son.
    I can't believe how much this book is describing the lives of my son and the ways I have viewed his disability.
    I am currently raising my two children alone while my husband is serving overseas in Iraq. I have been struggling so desperately and then this book came along. I have already begun seeing him in a different light and approaching him differently than I have before and have been experiencing such good changes in him.
    I have a much better outlook for our lives ahead. I really believe that with the support of others and the armour of knowledge about his disability that we will be able to become a stronger family rather than just co-existing as we have been.
    Thank you so much, Ross Green, for writing this book. ...more info
  • Solutions, not just problems...
    We've known for quite some time that our son(age 6) isn't "typical". After almost a year of testing and dealing with doctors we have been able to nail down a diagnosis. Research has told us time and again that traditional punishment and reward systems aren't effective with children like him (I could've told you that years ago), but so far none of the books we've read have offered solutions. It's all, "You can't do this, you can't do that". All right already, I want to know what I CAN do to help!
    I was skeptical at first because generally one size fits all solutions are anything but. I really appreciate that this book takes into account the varying range of difficulty from individual children instead of lumping them all into one category. It allows for individual tweaking of the methods introduced to accommodate all sorts of kids.
    I appreciate that this book describes my child and his thought processes better than they have ever been described to me before. After years of trying "traditional" parenting with my son I have undergone a complete mind shift and the results have been very good. Even if he has a difficult day and is in the midst of a breakdown, I am able to remain calm because I know he isn't just being willfully defiant or trying to upset me. I can see the effort he puts into making it through each day and I am far more appreciative of his wonderful personality traits. I have a lot more sympathy for his struggles and for the way he experiences the world.
    This book also gave me the kick in the rear I needed. Yes, parenting my kids alone while my husband is deployed is hard. I am busy. But if I don't wish to add a few extra minutes to my schedule to make sure things run smoothly for my son then I'm basically egging him on to a meltdown. I'm the adult here and it's my job to help guide and teach my son, not his job to keep me calm. My insistence that he do as I say every single time is certainly not teaching him flexibility, and we both experience a closer relationship by figuring out solutions together. I have remembered that the small stuff really isn't that big of a deal, and I have come to terms with my position as the parent of a special needs child.
    Is this a magical cure all? Of course not. But it is a very helpful starting point and can offer some needed insight into the inner workings of your child. We have seen a drastic reduction in the number of serious conflicts we experience and our relationship is so much better. A few months ago this scenario seemed like a distant and vague dream.
    For those who say that "giving in" is no solution, I would say that for typical children you're probably right. I parent my 4 year old in a traditional manner and it works quite well for him. But most parents of spectrum and sensory sensitive children understand that their thresholds and processing are quite different and can benefit from some accommodations. This book clearly lays out suggestions of what those accommodations should be and how to go about them....more info
  • not a cure all, but the most helpful approach yet
    Last year my 16 year old stepdaughter moved in with us. She has ADHD and ODD. I had never even HEARD of ODD at that time. I could not believe that a 16 year old could throw TANTRUMS but she has my 4 year old nephew beat. She could melt down over the smallest things! This book confirmed what I knew in my heart - that she doesn't WANT to be a bad kid and she DOES want our LOVE. Learning to negotiate with her in a positive way has been incredibly helpful and there have been much fewer meltdowns since my husband and I read this book. ...more info
  • Definitely worth the read!
    This book was recommended to me by a good friend who is a LCSW. She originally suggested it as a way to help understand some of my students. She mentioned it again when I told her about my own child's frustration and inflexibility.

    There were definitely some "light bulb" moments as I read the book. The book is geared toward older school-age children, though. The strategies and theories can be applied toward younger children, too.

    If there is a child in your life who is explosive, and not just in a violent way, inflexible, and easily frustrated, this really is a great resource!...more info


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