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The Explosive Child

4.07  ·  Rating details ·  4,935 ratings  ·  593 reviews

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 helpl

Paperback, 298 pages
Published September 20th 2005 by HarperCollins (first published October 1st 1998)
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Apr 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was very helpful to me, as I do have a child who is a tad on the explosive/inflexible side. However, I think this book may have helped me more than him directly. It helped me see that my expectations are too high, and that re-focusing my priorities is helping him deal with life in a much healthier way. It made me think in more in terms of compromise instead of "my way or the highway". He is responding very well to this because he now feels like he has more control over his decisions (e ...more
Jonathan Peto
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The book is billed as "a new approach for understanding and parenting easily frustrated, chronically inflexible children". I don't know if it's new - it seemed logical and simple enough, but I think the author's presentation is so clear that you will benefit from the book even if you are already trying to solve problems with your child collaboratively. A few reviewers seemed to feel that the author was negative, but I completely disagree. I thought he was extraordinarily understanding toward chi ...more
sarah gilbert
Feb 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book is a revelation for parents frustrated, frightened, confused by their child's unusually challenging behavior. It presents a framework for dealing with their behavior and finding a way to teach children *how* to behave appropriately, and to stop believing they don't *want* to do well ("kids do well if they can"). The book rejects many popular diagnoses -- like oppositional-defiant disorder, ADHD, and the like -- as being beside the point.

This book is not, however, a one-stop solution fo
Sep 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I want to give this book a bad review because it really goes against everything I hold to be reasonable. But, I have been implementing it for 4 days now and getting some pretty amazing results. Results that I am certain are directly related to following the plan set out by the authors.

I know what you're thinking. "Really? Four whole days? It's a Christmas miracle." If I were there in front of you, I'd reply, "These are the first 4 days that have even teetered on the brink of replicating normal
Apr 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
I ended up really enjoying this book. It was a big eye opener for me on how to deal with my child that is stubborn, smart, perfectionist, always needing to be right, and throws temper tantrums and has a really short fuse. It was interesting idea on that your child just is missing some ways on how to process certain things that happen to them, which end up really frustrate them. How giving them a punishment while they are frustrated is ineffective, and so are many other parenting practices for yo ...more
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Wouldn't it be nice if when our kids explode they explode with rainbows and sparkles? It would be a mess to clean up but a vast improvement. Lately it seems like our life is smack dab in the middle of a fault line. It's a four year old one. Sweet Pea has always been very sensitive and has had a few meltdowns. But for the past six months, about the time she started preschool it's been an every day thing. Sometimes it's little meltdowns and it's easy to get her out of it. But too often it's a scre ...more
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Someone asked why I chose this book over the many others out there on this subject.
1. it deals directly with the brain and its pathways - there is actually some scientific basis for the theories behind this book
2. it treats the children (and parents) with a great deal of compassion and respect. The solutions have to do with understand our child and coaching them to grow the missing pathways rather than manage, rewarding or punishing (which I know from experience just do not work with my child)
Jan 01, 2008 rated it it was ok
I was very disappointed in this book. There was never any clear discussion of what symptoms or characteristics one might use to classify their child as "explosive" other than one who throws a lot of violent fits. But there is a big difference between a "difficult" kid and one who is emotionally incapable of controlling him- or herself.

Also, the book devolves quickly into doc-speak, bandying terms like "separation of affect," "working memory" and "shifting cognitive set" which had me seeing stars
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
If you have a child diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Syndrome, or as Dr. Greene prefers to call them, "inflexible-explosive," you MUST read this book. It completely changed the way I think about daughter. It helped me to see that she's not a tough discipline case, nor am I a parenting failure. She has a processing disorder, and instead of trying to bend her to our will, we have to teach her the skills she needs to reason through her frustration. It isn't easy, and it's very slow going on most ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately, this book doesn't teach you what to do with your negative, explosive child during an episode.

The book provides examples of kids with similar behaviors to my own kid, and it does explain why kids tend to explode, but it doesn't say what you can do during those explosions. The solution provided is extremely unrealistic.

In short, the solution is communication, but how do you communicate with a child who is having an episode?
The way communication goes in this book, the conversations s
Naomi Kenorak
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: parenting
This book takes a different perspective to inflexible-explosive children - children who do not respond to behavioral modification programs (like traditional rewards and punishments) because they do not have the flexibility to change their behavior once they degrade or meltdown in the face of unexpected circumstances. These children have great difficulties because they often cannot foresee a problem before it happens - even if it has happened regularly before and their parents think it is plain a ...more
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Clearly this book was written for parents who are so overwhelmed with their misbehaving children, they no longer want to be parents. The author is continously trying to encourage the parents to ENDURE their children, he neglects to encourage us to ENJOY them. As a parent of a high-strung, tempermental child, this book was recommended to me. While a lot of the information applied to my child, the author's approach was so negative that it was hard to apply the princliples. I realize that this book ...more
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: parenting
Without the strong recommendation from a trusted friend I would have missed out in the insight offered by the Explosive Child. I have a strong-willed child, I have a challenging child, but I would never have categorized my child as "explosive." I'm so grateful I took her advice - this book is a fabulous resource.

On the whole the book is very well written and presents information in multiple modes (a case study type narrative, question and answer sections, summary points). The "explosive child" l
Jul 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
probably the most helpful and practical nonfiction book I've ever read. this gels with much of my intuition on parenting an explosive and inflexible child but helps me see where I'm missing the boat and gives great instructions on how to keep working together.

Dr Greene also gives me permission to try to let go of societal expectations and norms about kids behaving as expected and that typical consequences and incentives don't work for these kids. This method doesn't put the kid in charge of the
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it

Loved it. Super different way if parenting and I have a hard time letting go if some basic 'normal' parenting ideas but as he says 'how is that working for you?'. And it's not. This is about extreme kids and thats what we gave, and I didn't set out a year ago to find a diagnosis but Finally feel like we've found one. Here's hoping
Feb 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: parenting
This was a good book for discussing ways to communicate in a proactive way with your child. However, I disagreed with its philosophy that rewards and punishments for behavior were unnecessary because the child already knows what behaviors you want to see.
Amy T.
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book for anyone parenting a child who struggles with emotional volatility. The author asserts that kids “do as well as they can,” and when they respond with outbursts, meltdowns, etc, it is because they lack the skills to do better. He encourages using what he calls “Plan B.” Instead of maintaining a “My way or the highway” approach to parenting (which simply does not work with some kids, whether or not we think it should), he proposes using empathy, reflective listening, ...more
Jul 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
This book was so bad I literally could not even force myself to finish it. I have a degree in psychology and am nearly finished on a masters in social work and this book is a disaster. Every parent is going to begin thinking their child is explosive. This guy went to Harvard? He contradicts himself a few times in the book in regards to how behaviorism can't POSSIBLY work with these "explosive" kids and how they just need to be listened and "collaborated" with. Yeah, "conventional wisdom" says no ...more
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: school staff
Recommended to Kim by: Diane Hinves (psychologist)
Shelves: parenting
I loved the philosophy of this author, that children do well if they can. He helped me understand some of the challenging behaviors Robbie sometimes has and how to deal with them. He said to first figure out what some of the things are that trigger an explosion. For Robbie that might be a sibling taking a toy away from him, turning the TV off to do homework, etc. Then he described plan A, C, and B for dealing with the explosion. A is insisting on your way. C is dropping the expectation entirely, ...more
Nov 03, 2009 rated it liked it
Another discipline book I almost finished reading! I can tell I have an explosive child on my hands, but this book made me feel a lot better about my personal situation. It could be a lot worse! However, the solution proposed by the book - a sort of negotiation with your child - has not worked in our household. I suppose we just can't get over the notion that we should be in charge. Period.

So... the explosions continue. I'm hoping he grows out of it!
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting; I hope that it proves to be helpful. As I read this book, I was prompted to think about some things differently than I have been and to consider different approaches to long-standing issues. I was also prompted to consider the reasons why I've chosen past strategies and whether they have been effective; they have not. It's time to try something new.
JoAnn   W.
Nov 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: parents and teachers of difficult children and teens
This is a must-read book for parents of hard-to-handle kids. It outlines a practical solution to conflicts -- "the three baskets" and shows how to apply this method for more peace and domestic tranquility.
Nov 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jag har nyss läst boken och jag är helt salig. Den förklarar så mycket av det vi har gått/går igenom. Den ger bekräftelse och handfast hjälp. Perfekt vore det för föräldrar att få den träning som föräldrar får i boken avseende förhållningssätt till sina barn. Det som framförallt hjälpt mig är följande:

Jag får exempel beskrivna som inte helt stämmer med vad jag varit med om men där tydliga paralleller kan dras. Jag gillade först inte det första kapitlet och slutade därför läsa, jag började igen e
Dec 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book gave me a lot to think about. The author takes on the task of dealing with children who explode -- who get unreasonably angry over seemingly minor things. He says the usual advice is to follow more strictly a system of consequences for bad behavior and rewards for good behavior. He disagrees with that and says there are children for whom that just doesn't work. He gives another way of talking children through their anger and coming to a mutually satisfying solution. I learned a lot fro ...more
Mar 29, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, parenting
I think this is a great book-- other than the unrelenting sexist wording (the kid with the problem is *always* referred to as "he"-- for which I took off a whole star). I'm still not convinced this is what's going on with my son--- his triggers seems to be hunger and tiredness. But the techniques seem very child-friendly, practical and promoting of teaching skills and building peace within a family.

Thoughts from before I read the book:
I wonder if this book would be helpful for me in dealing with
Mar 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I read this book because it sounded like something that might help me with my daughter. I think it will, but the really interesting thing was that I kept seeing myself as I read it. So many incidents from my childhood and adolescence suddenly make so much more sense. I was always more implosive than explosive, in the author's words, but the underlying issues are the same. Not only that, but I now recognize the same difficulty with frustration in both my husband and one of my brothers. I've only ...more
Sep 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This had some good ideas about how to teach your child to be less explosive and stop freaking out so much over little things. The answer? Model patience and calmness and flexibility for them in the way you work things out.

This is one approach that can help, but I don't think it is a good enough (one might even say "flexible enough"?) technique to use in all situations. That wouldn't be so bad, except that the author acts as though it is the only tool you ever need.

This book can help you be more
Dec 31, 2008 rated it did not like it
Crap theory! Parents can use the 'basket' method until they turn blue in the face..... Get an eval of your child and family system instead of reading this book. It is a starting point, but not the solution.
Apr 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
Good book. Nothing new to me but great strategies for parents and teachers working with explosive children.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
love, love this book! It is a great technique for any parent who gets frustrated with a kiddo who is having a rough patch.
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Madison Mega-Mara...: The Explosive Child 1 7 Apr 07, 2012 07:06AM  
Rigid Children 2 36 Sep 21, 2008 08:18PM  
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Dr. Ross Greene is the New York Times bestselling author of the influential books The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Raising Human Beings, and Lost & Found. He is the originator of the innovative, evidence-based treatment approach called Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) described in these books. The CPS model provides a compassionate, accurate understanding of behavioral challen ...more
“Behaviorally challenging kids are challenging because they’re lacking the skills to not be challenging.” 4 likes
“If the only time a child looks as if he has bipolar disorder is when he’s frustrated, that’s not bipolar disorder; that’s a learning disability in the domains of flexibility and frustration tolerance.” 4 likes
More quotes…