BookReview: The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
by Ross W. Greene, Harper Paperbacks, 9/20/2005, 978-0060779399

A very interesting book that challenges the approach that temper tantrums are simply a child's way of getting attention. Certain children explode because they can't do otherwise: they are over-stimulated, and don't know how to cope. Ross Greene says, "children do well if they can." If they aren't "doing well", it's because they can't. Children don't want to throw tantrums any more than adults do. It's an extremely uncomfortable, out-of-control feeling.

Greene's approach is to avoid meltdowns unless you really have to (pull a child from a busy street), or you believe the situation is an important developmental opportunity. Otherwise, just let it go. This isn't "giving up authority", but rather demonstrating maturity by wisely picking your battles. Most meltdowns can be avoided this way without any loss of authority.

If you have an explosive or implosive child in your family, this is a must read. You will learn coping skills, and hopefully, learn how to model coping skills for your child.

[p28] What's the main thing your brain must do when faced with a frustration? Solve the problem that frustrated you in the first place. It turns out that problem solving requires a great deal of organization and planning. First, you need to identify the problem you're trying to solve (it's very hard to solve a problem if you don't know what the problem is), then consider a range of possible solutions to the problem, and then anticipate the likely outcomes of those solutions so as to choose a course of action.

[p82] Unfortunately, we live in a society in which many adults, when faced with a child who isn't meeting expectations, can think of only one word: Consequences. That's a shame, because there are only two ways in which consequences are actually useful: (1) to teach basic lessons about right from wrong (such as don't hit, don't swear, don't explode); and (2) to motivate people to behave appropriately. But it's a very safe bet that your child already knows you don't want him to hit, swear, or explode, so it wouldn't make a great deal of sense to spend a lot of time using consequences to teach him something he already knows. And-this may be a little harder to believe--it's also a safe bet that your child is already motivated not to make himself and those around him miserable, so it wouldn't make a great deal of sense to spend a lot of time using consequences to give him the incentive to do well. Children do well if they can. If your child could do well, he would. He needs something else from you. Thankfully, there's a whole universe of options available to help your child besides consequences.

[p202] Entire books have been written on how to restructure the inaccurate, maladaptive thoughts of children and adults. The idea is to help the individual recognize the inaccuracy of his existing belief systems and replace the inaccurate thoughts that make up these belief systems with a more accurate, adaptive way of thinking. This restructuring usually involves "disconfirming" the individual's old thoughts by presenting-in a user-friendly, low-key, systematic manner-evidence that is contrary to these rigid beliefs. With a child who is stuck on the belief that she's stupid, we might have a teacher or parent whisper the following comment in response to a good grade on an assignment: "I know you sometimes think you're stupid, but I don't think someone who's stupid could have done that well on that math test." In a child who has bona fide weaknesses in one area and strengths in another, a teacher's feedback might be as follows: "I know you're struggling with reading-and that makes you say you're stupid sometimes-but I've never seen anybody who was so good at math. Looks to me like you're really good in math and still need some help in reading."

Via Rob 10/13/2007
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