Book Review: The Explosive Child

Book review: The Explosive Child by Ross Greene, PhD

I cannot recall how I first found this book by Dr. Ross Greene. I ordered it a while back but just opened it a few weeks ago. I ended up reading it over a couple of days.

You see, I live with an “Explosive Child”. Well, sort of. We go in an almost cyclical pattern around here where we will have a period of relative calm, followed by a week of utter chaos.  But I digress…

I enjoyed this book very much.  So I’ll just put that right out there.

What really pulled me in was the idea that our children are not behaving badly for no reason whatsoever, but because they are lacking some specific skills. According to Ross W. Greene, PhD, “challenging kids are lacking the skills of flexibility, adaptability, frustration tolerance and problem solving.”

My ADHD child is definitely lacking in all of the above skills.  As am I.

Even more, The Explosive Child showed me that our children are not choosing to display challenging behavior.

One of the “lagging skills” I was able to identify while reading this book was my son’s difficulty handling transitions. Dr. Green points out that for some children moving from one mindset to another causes them to get “stuck” and then react negatively.

In my house we have a blowup almost every single time we try to transition from play-time to bedtime. By pestering our son and demanding that he comply, we were actually making the issue worse. Now, when my child is having a hard time shifting gears I can work on developing a plan with him.

A large part of Dr. Greene’s book is devoted to helping parents figure out how to collaborate with their children, rather than correct their children. There are examples given throughout the book about how to engage a child in a collaborative conversation.

I like the idea of collaborating and problem solving with kids, in fact it is something I am interested in applying to my own parenting.  Up until now, I have been at a loss as to how to implement this type of system.

Dr. Greene breaks his technique down into 4 (semi) easy steps:

  • Empathy Step – involves gathering information from your child so you can gain some perspective on the unsolved problem or lacking skill
  • Drilling Step – involves showing the child that you are genuinely trying to understand and allowing them to talk while you listen.
  • Define the Problem Step – This is where you get to carefully enter your concern.
  • Invitation Step – The adult invites the child to solve the problem collaboratively.

Dr. Greene clearly explains the concept of “drilling” your children for more information about what they are struggling with. For school-aged children drilling would involve asking “who, what, where or when” questions in order to figure it out.

Dr. Greene then introduces the reader to reflective listening techniques, as well as ideas for breaking down the lagging skills or specific problems with your child. While doing all of this, the important part is that you approach from a position of wanting to understand.

If you think about it,

[ctt title=”most of us are so bent on trying to get our children to listen to us, that we barely hear what they are trying to say.” tweet=”most of us are so bent on trying to get our children to listen to us, that we barely hear what they are trying to say.@HealthyADHD” coverup=”UQ0Rz”]

This book taught me to listen a little better to what my son is trying to communicate.

My favorite part of Dr. Greene’s technique is that each of the steps of this process involve teaching important life skills to our children. I don’t know about you – but I want to empower my child to problem solve in this manner in a range of situations.

  1. The empathy step allows a child to practice expressing their thoughts and emotions in a rational and clear manner.
  2. The drilling step demonstrates that if you remain calm, others are more willing to listen to what you have to say.
  3. Defining the problem is an excellent way for kids to practice listening to another person’s point of view without getting upset.
  4. And last, the invitation step allows us to model cooperation and consideration of more than one way to solve a problem.

Flexible thinking is a very desirable trait to instill in our children. And it is something that many adults and children with ADHD struggle with. I should know I am one of the most inflexible people like….ever.

No wonder my kid is so inflexible…..

Anyway –

If you are struggling to communicate with your child, I highly recommend this book.

If you and/or your child have ADHD and seem to get frustrated and give up, I recommend this book.

The writing is detailed enough to give you some ideas to start with, while being easy to understand. I would say you could apply the steps in this book to most children by age 5-6. With younger children it would be a little harder to use.

If you are interested in supporting this website you can purchase a copy below:

I linked to Dr. Greene’s website above.  Definitely check it out!

Do you live with an Explosive Child?

How do you collaborate with your children?

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  • Coastinganon

    Finding myself hyper-focused on your blog this evening and delirious that someone seems to have entered my home and started a blog for me 😉 I love Ross Greene, but of course, I had such a hard time remembering to implement any of this unless we were in the moment, which isn’t the optimal time to approach the unsolved problem. Cue the podcast! Dr Greene has a podcast and I went back and started listening from the beginning. It is pretty cute at the beginning as he’s all, “pardon me while I sip my tea”, and “so glad we have at least one listener”. Anyway, it was just what I needed to drill it into my mind exactly what I should be doing and how.

    Anyway, thanks for the evening inspiration!

    Miriam (who just signed up to the FB group) aka
    Coastinganon

  • Liz

    Hi Miriam-
    thanks so much for commenting. Which group did you join?
    I had no idea Dr. Greene had a podcast, now I have to find it.
    Tell me more about your family (in the group), I love hearing from my new readers. You are exactly who I started this site for. :).
    -liz