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


$15.14 $15.99 Save 5% Current price is $15.14, Original price is $15.99. You Save 5%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Eligible for FREE SHIPPING


The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene

The 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061906190
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/19/2010
Pages: 314
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

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 (

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Waffle Episode

Jennifer, age eleven, wakes up, makes her bed, looks around her room to make sure everything is in its place, and heads into the kitchen to make herself breakfast. She peers into the freezer, removes the container of frozen waffles, and counts six waffles. Thinking to herself, "I'll have three waffles this morning and three tomorrow morning," Jennifer toasts her three waffles and sits down to eat.

Moments later, her mother and five-year-old brother, Adam, enter the kitchen, and the mother asks Adam what he'd like to eat for breakfast. Adam responds, "Waffles," and the mother reaches into the freezer for the waffles. Jennifer, who has been listening intently, explodes.

"He can't have the frozen waffles!" Jennifer screams, her face suddenly reddening.

"Why not?" asks the mother, her voice and pulse rising, at a loss for an explanation of Jennifer's behavior.

"I was going to have those waffles tomorrow morning!"

Jennifer screams, jumping out of her chair.

"I'm not telling your brother he can't have waffles!" the mother yells back.

"He can't have them!" screams Jennifer, now face-to-face with her mother.

The mother, wary of the physical and verbal aggression of which her daughter is capable during these moments, desperately asks Adam if there's something else he would consider eating.

"I want waffles," whimpers Adam, cowering behind his mother.

Jennifer, her frustration and agitation at a peak, pushes her mother out of the way, seizes the container of frozen waffles, then slams the freezer door shut, pushes over a kitchen chair, grabs herplate of toasted waffles, and stalks to her room. Her brother and mother begin to cry.

Jennifer's family members have endured literally thousands of such episodes. In many instances, the episodes are more prolonged and intense, and involve more physical or verbal aggression than the one described above (when Jennifer was eight, she kicked out the front windshield of the family car). Mental health professionals have told Jennifer's parents she has something called oppositional-defiant disorder. For the parents, however, a simple label doesn't begin to explain the upheaval, turmoil, and trauma that Jennifer's outbursts cause. Her siblings and mother are scared of her. Her extreme volatility and inflexibility require constant vigilance and enormous energy from her mother and father, thereby lessening the attention the parents wish they could devote to Jennifer's brother and sister. Her parents frequently argue over the best way to handle her behavior, but agree about the severe strains Jennifer places on their marriage. Although she is above average in intelligence, Jennifer has no close friends; children who initially befriend her eventually find her rigid personality difficult to tolerate.

Over the years, Jennifer's parents have sought help from countless mental health professionals, most of whom advised them to set firmer limits and be more consistent in managing Jennifer's behavior, and instructed them on how to implement formal behavior management strategies. When such strategies failed to work, Jennifer was medicated with innumerable combinations of drugs, without dramatic effect. After eight years of medicine, advice, sticker charts, time-outs, and reward pro-grams, Jennifer has changed little since her parents first noticed there was something "different" about her when she was a toddler.

"Most people can't imagine how humiliating it is to be scared of your own daughter," Jennifer's mother once said. "People who don't have a child like Jennifer don't have a clue about what it's like to live like this. Believe me, this is not what I envisioned when I dreamed of having children. This is a nightmare."

"You can't imagine the embarrassment of having Jennifer ‘lose it' around people who don't know her," her mother continued. "I feel like telling them, ‘I have two kids at home who don't act like this — I really am a good parent!' "

"I know people are thinking, ‘What wimpy parents she must have ... what that kid really needs is a good thrashing.' Believe me, we've tried everything with her. But nobody's been able to tell us how to help one's really been able to tell us what's the matter with her!"

"I hate what I've become. I used to think of myself as a kind, patient, sympathetic person. But Jennifer has caused me to act in ways I never thought I was capable of. I'm emotionally spent. I can't keep living like this."

"I know a lot of other parents who have pretty difficult know, kids who are hyperactive or having trouble paying attention. I would give my left arm for a kid who was just hyperactive or having trouble paying attention! Jennifer is in a completely different league! It makes me feel very alone."

The truth is, Jennifer's mother is not alone; there are a lot of Jennifers out there. Their parents quickly discover that strategies that are usually effective for shaping the behavior of other children — such as explaining, reasoning, reassuring, nurturing, redirecting, ignoring, rewarding, and punishing —don't have the same success with their Jennifers. Even formal behavior management programs — sticker charts, contingent rewarding and punishing, and time-outs — and commonly prescribed medications have not led to satisfactory improvement. If you started reading this book because you have a Jennifer of your own, you're probably familiar with how frustrated, confused, angry, bitter, guilty, overwhelmed, worn out, and hopeless Jennifer's parents feel.

Besides oppositional-defiant disorder, children like Jennifer may be diagnosed with any of a variety of psychiatric disorders and learning inefficiencies, including attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), mood disorders (bipolar disorder and depression), Tourette's disorder, anxiety disorders (including obsessive-compulsive disorder), language-processing impairments, sensory integration dysfunction, nonverbal learning disability, reactive attachment disorder, and Asperger's disorder. Such children may also be described as having difficult temperaments.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Explosive Child 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Explosive Child is the most helpful book on difficult children that I have ever read. My 14 year old son is described perfectly by Dr. Greene & his approach is very easy to implement. After discussing how to decide if something is really worth arguing about, he offers great ideas for teaching extremely inflexible kids how to negotiate & compromise without having a tantrum. It was reassuring to know that my son's behavior is not unique and there are practical ways of dealing (i.e. preventing) outbursts. I wish I had read this book years ago. His methods apply to all ages, including teenagers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A big thanks to Dr. Greene for looking inside children with a thoughtful, hopeful approach that takes into consideration their unique wiring. This philosophy is the foundation of our own unique approach called Celebrate! which we restore a child's confidence, purpose and joy by focusing on the child's natural gifts, talents and passions. Often times the child who is explosive and defiant also has some characteristics that we value in trailblazing entrepreneurs, scientists, inventors and entertainers. They have passion and incredible focus on their gifts, they have the persistence to continue working toward their dreams even when others say it can't be done. Let's not try to make these kids act like everyone else for our own convenience--or the convenience of teachers and schools. Let's take stock of their unique qualities, turn negatives into positives and focus their energy on their strengths. Above all, let's enjoy our children. Thanks again to Dr. Greene for his work. This book will help many parents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was the first of many we read that not only explained the characteristics of the problem but actually walked us through step-by-step how to help. At age four our oldest child was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome and ADHD and was a terror--I was embarrassed to take him out in public, because people with 'normal' children always thought his tantrums were due to bad parenting. Initially, I was skeptical of Dr. Greene's approach, but he addressed all of my skepticisms! I would certainly recommend that parents who struggle with an inflexible, explosive child give this book a try. (Note: We used this approach in conjuction with starting medication, so it may have been the combination of the two that did the trick.)
BRoberts More than 1 year ago
Have been a psychotherapist working exclusively with children and adolescents for the past 14 years. When working with parents who are struggling with a child who struggles with maladaptive behaviors, I without hesitation refer them to this book. As opposed to most "parenting" books, this read illustrates the importance of addressing the "why" a behavior is happening and not simply teaching traditional behavioral appoaches such as a token economy or a reward/punishment model. Courtesy of this book and the Collaborative Problem Solving approach to therapy, I have numerous examples of families I've worked with that began therapy feeling hopeless and overwhelmed only to finish therapy feeling optimisitic and connected with their once labeled "explosive child".
RedSwan More than 1 year ago
this book had some explanation of the wiring issues that can be causing the outbursts. the solutions offered however were nothing that i haven't seen other places. i think that "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen; How to Listen so Kids Will Talk" does a much better job. Greene's solutions are approaches that I think can benefit all kids, not just explosive ones. Having said that, I think "How to Talk..." is a better use of your money. The reason I chose to try this book is that I was hoping for some help with my daughter who is three and has been having tantrums where she throws, hits, and kicks that last twenty minutes on average for about 14 months. Because she is still so young, talking it over with her preemptively really doesn't help. I've tried many times. So Greene has nothing to offer if your child can't think about future events in a constructive way. There were a few helpful tidbits to remind me that she doesn't want to behave that way and that she does have a physiological delay. But beyond that, not much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the most helpful book in dealing with my son. Finally an approach that works!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally, a book that not only recognizes my sons' disorder but also walks you step by step to help him and our family. I started reading Dr. Greene's book 3 days ago and already I have recommended it to other parents.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally a book that not only explains the reasons why my child acts the way he does - but gave me workable solutions! If your family is suffering from having a child with this disorder - order this book immediately!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The method described in the book is a helpful way to help parents in challenging situations. It is also as it notes, not a magic lamp, it requires a lot of effort and practice. My only issue with the book is how repetitive it becomes, specially in the early chapters.
PennyWilliams More than 1 year ago
If you have a child with ADHD, or a child who seems inflexible, this is a must-read. This book changed our family -- it helped us understand our son's behaviors, and helped us attack them in an appropriate manner. Read this now!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Did a fabulous job
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My wife and I have been struggling with our daughter for 4 years. We had tried literally everything to get her behavior under control but nothing was working. I picked up this book and immediately I have changed my entire thought process and approach my daughters challenges from a completely different direction. It was like a golden light went off in my head. I cannot begin to explain how this book is changing my life. For any parent who is struggline with a child where behavior is the issue and you feel like you are at your witts end, you need this book. Dr. Green goes into depth exactly WHY the explosive behaviors happen and why the standard ways of dealing with them do not work. It is nothing short of amazing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago