The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children

by Ross W Greene PhD


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A groundbreaking approach to understanding and parenting children who frequently exhibit severe fits of temper and other intractable behaviors, from a distinguished clinician and pioneer in this field.

What’s an explosive child? A child who responds to routine problems with extreme frustration—crying, screaming, swearing, kicking, hitting, biting, spitting, destroying property, and worse. A child whose frequent, severe outbursts leave his or her parents feeling frustrated, scared, worried, and desperate for help. Most of these parents have tried everything-reasoning, explaining, punishing, sticker charts, therapy, medication—but to no avail. They can’t figure out why their child acts the way he or she does; they wonder why the strategies that work for other kids don’t work for theirs; and they don’t know what to do instead.

Dr. Ross Greene, a distinguished clinician and pioneer in the treatment of kids with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges, has worked with thousands of explosive children, and he has good news: these kids aren’t attention-seeking, manipulative, or unmotivated, and their parents aren’t passive, permissive pushovers. Rather, explosive kids are lacking some crucial skills in the domains of flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving, and they require a different approach to parenting.

Throughout this compassionate, insightful, and practical book, Dr. Greene provides a new conceptual framework for understanding their difficulties, based on research in the neurosciences. He explains why traditional parenting and treatment often don’t work with these children, and he describes what to do instead. Instead of relying on rewarding and punishing, Dr. Greene’s Collaborative Problem Solving model promotes working with explosive children to solve the problems that precipitate explosive episodes, and teaching these kids the skills they lack.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062270450
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 05/20/2014
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 17,907
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.68(d)

About the Author

Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., is the originator of the Collaborative & Proactive Solutions (CPS) model described in this book, an approach he has researched extensively, along with colleagues throughout the world. Dr. Greene served on the faculty at Harvard Medical School for over 20 years, and is currently Founding Director of the non-profit Lives in the Balance and adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech. He consults extensively to families, schools, and therapeutic facilities and lectures widely internationally. Vast free resources on the CPS approach can be found on the Lives in the Balance website (

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xv

1 The Waffle Episode 1

2 Kids Do Well If They Can 9

3 Lagging Skills and Unsolved Problems 19

4 Getting Started 43

5 The Truth About Consequences 75

6 The Three Plans 87

7 Plan B 101

8 Trouble in Paradise 135

9 Got Questions? 159

10 Family Matters 189

11 The Dinosaur in the Building 225

12 Better 253

Additional Reading 261

Index 265

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Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful book for understanding an easily frustrated, explosive child. One of the key phrases in this book that I loved is "Children do well if they can." It emphasizes that an easily frustrated child is necessarily trying to make things difficult, but that they do not possess all the developmental and cognitive tools to process information and find more plausible solutions. It is our responsibility as parents, teachers, or other adults that work with children to help to teach these children more productive ways of dealing with life's challenges. I highly recommend this book!
amakua More than 1 year ago
If you have an "explosive child" like I do, then this is VERY helpful and gives great insight. He helps you understand how to deal with your child's behavior in a sensible way. I'm still reading it and it has already helped me better understand where my little one is coming from. I recommend the book to all who have a child like this and doctors and therapists also, to not mis-diagosis them and give them meds that won't help.
SR3 More than 1 year ago
This book has brought light to me about my daughters temper tantrums. I promise that you will understand your child so much better if you actually read this book and use the techniques. I felt like a parent that could not do anything right but now I feel like I'm helping us both. My daughter would all of a sudden go crazy or I would say something that would trigger her but either way it was bad. She would have short tantrums (5 to 10 minutes) and long tantrums (30 minutes and comatosed afterwards). We would never know how long it would last and it was always just involving her (she would not harm anyone else). And we had tried everything. So I have a friend who is a behavioral doctor that I begged to see my daughter because I truely thought their might be something very worng with her. And as a parent you fell so stupid not being able to help. My doctor friend saw her and told me that nothing was wrong that was going to hurt her, but she was probably delayed in the emotional development part of her brain. He then told me to read this book....The Best Thing I Have Ever Read!!! It really helps!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this book is written for children with extreme problems, I have found it helpful even for children who are a little more difficult than average. It is an understanding, empathetic, and loving approach to helping (rather than punishing) children who have problems with behavior. It is very effective not only in improving behavior, but in improving trust and the parent-child relationship. As Dr. Greene says, 'Children do well if they can. If they can't, we need to figure out why, so we can help.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
Parents of children like those Dr Greene describes will recognize this book as the first ray of hope in a long dark tunnel. His approach is extremely unique yet natural. His method yields immediate results in reducing family friction while setting the stage for long term heeling. An unequivocal must read for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I Love To Read Books.
herebedragons on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
#120, 2006This is a FANTASTIC book, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who has a defiant or easily frustrated child. Just the beginning of the book alone was really helpful to me ¿ the author believes that most children with the sorts of issues he describes in this book (ADD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, etc.) really are motivated to do well (in other words, it¿s not just more discipline that is needed), and that they do well if they have the ability. If they are misbehaving, it¿s likely because they don¿t have the developmental skills to do any differently.Then, the author gives some strategies for making the child¿s environment ¿User-friendlier,¿ to reduce the number of tantrums and other sorts of episodes, mostly through what is basically well-defined ¿choose your battles¿ system. I loved this book.
Jane_V_Blanchard More than 1 year ago
I was recommended The Explosive Child by Ross W. Green, Ph.D. by the parent of a problematic child. I immediately liked Dr. Green's simple and logical approach to "understanding and parenting children" who are so frustrated that they can not deal with adult (parent or authority figure) interactions and "meltdown" into explosive behavior. The book helps parents understand why a child is explosive and offers solutions. To substantiate, Dr. Green includes many actual case examples. These were helpful to me in understanding the type of behaviors a parent should avoid or emulate. They also helped me develop an understanding of what it felt to be a child who did not have the skills to deal with frustrations and social expectations. Hopefully, I can now be more sympathetic and less judgemental when I see a parent dealing with a 'meltdown." I recommend this book as a resource to anyone dealing with an explosive child or who wants to better understand the behavior.
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Wonderful new innovative evidence based model! All parents should give this a good read
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LianaL More than 1 year ago
A helpful book for parents seeking effective strategies for dealing with their challenging children. As a social worker, I often recommend this book to my clients who are looking for easy to use, effective parenting strategies. Liana Lowenstein, MSW Author of, "Creative Interventions for Troubled Children and Youth"
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I don't usually turn to parenting literature to solve problems at home, but when my three year old's outbursts started to escalate I began to desperately search for a good approach. This book provides a well developed framework and a flexible strategy for helping my whole family address our daughter's explosions. Instead of her explosions ruining her (and our) whole day, we have managed to reduce their frequency and intensity. This is a great guide for all parents, not just children with chronic explosiveness. All kids/adults go through some phases when they are inflexible, and this book is helpful for everyone.
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