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The Explosive Child

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  7,321 ratings  ·  816 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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Eva Yes. Parents of younger kids can still use the Collaborative Problem-Solving approach, and Greene includes some techniques you can use with younger ki…moreYes. Parents of younger kids can still use the Collaborative Problem-Solving approach, and Greene includes some techniques you can use with younger kids or kids who aren't as verbal, in particular the Five Finger method, where you suggest answers to your questions and they indicate how right or wrong you are with fingers. The general principles apply well ev n if your child is not yet able to analyze and verbalize their own needs,and starting with it while they're young will make it easy and natural to transition into their doing more of the thinking and talking as they get older.(less)

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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: non-fiction, 2012
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
A very helpful book for parents, teachers, and all others who work with children.
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
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 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!
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.
Dec 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my dearest friends who is a child psychologist and a mother recommended this book and Raising Human Beings: Creating a Collaborative Partnership with Your Child, and I found the premises in this book persuasive and empowering. I don't love the title, though I understand seeing an inflexible child as a ticking time bomb; I wish the publisher had decided to focus on the process (collaborative problem solving) rather than the symptom. Greene points out that the unwanted behaviors (crying, sc ...more
Courtney Judd
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was ok
What I liked:
-The Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems (ASLUP) was enlightening for my husband and me. It helped us identify the challenges our child is facing to know where to start.
-"Kids do well if they can" mentality. Greene reminds parents that children want to succeed but they act out when they are lagging in the skills they need to behave well. He focuses on solving underlying problems rather than bad behavior, because if you solve the problem then the behavior should improv
Embracing the Spectrum
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I think that this book is really good for parents who have children who have the tendency to lash out physically or verbally and who have the language skills to use the suggestions in the book. I really like the approach in the book. Plan B is definitely a good plan, as it gives the child a feeling of being in control, which is what children like this want, but is also gives them experience working on mutually agreed-open solutions, which is a life skill. My only criticism is that in a 293 page ...more
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: school staff
Recommended to Kim by: Diane Hinves (psychologist)
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
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
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. ...more
Tamara Olsen
Aug 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
I dont want to sound too dramatic, but this book drastically changed our family dynamics. It gave us a steady plan to follow for our four year old. We have so much less tension in our him. It helped us change from adversaries to allies and we feel like we are more in control parents than ever before!
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. ...more
Sukanya Arora
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a Child Psychologist, this book has been a wonder wisdom for me, a book that made so many neural connections for me. Fortunately, my training helped me see behavioral challenges in children in a similar light that the book talks about (that is, they lack the skills for flexibility, tolerance, patience, etc) this book actually helped in understanding how to deal with those.

I can just imagine how helpful of a resource it must have turned out for parents & children dealing with such difficultie
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Some kids are different. It is a real challenge as a parent to have a child who doesn't fit the behavior mold, and this book provides a very useful framework to think about parenting such a child. The main idea is that some kids don't develop the skills to handle frustration like most kids do. When they behave badly when they are frustrated, there is the sense that there should be consequences. However, parents know that honestly these kids literally don't have the ability to behave in a better ...more
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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 challenges and ...more

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