The Explosive Child by Ross Greene (2005)

#53 in my book challenge for the year was The Explosive Child, which our pediatrician recommended at Drake’s 3-year checkup after observing his interactions with us, and noting he had an “oppositional” personality. I like our doc; his approach is very factual and scientific. He’s definitely old school, though, so I take his advice with that in mind. From other parents and my own observation, most three year olds are oppositional, with low flexibility and frustration points. They’re testing boundaries, and learning how to share and compromise. I think the book is directed at parents of older children who still exhibit the type of tantrums more typical at three. As the doc warned, the parent and child examples in the book are extreme. Nonetheless, I found the book useful for its advice and reminders. One of its themes is that children do well if they can, so if they’re not doing well, it’s likely a lack of ability to handle frustration, not an unwillingness to behave. That’s why sticker charts and timeouts are not universal solutions. It also broke down parent/child negotiations into three types: parent enforces will, parent and child collaborate on problem solving, parent decides not to pursue issue. The case studies were a good reminder that many blowups happen when both parent and child are being inflexible, or when a parent is rushing a child through a transition faster than the child can adapt. The book’s focus is for parents to learn, and teach their children, collaborative problem solving. This requires both parties to bring a concern to the discussion. While I can certainly lay the groundwork for this, getting my 3yo to articulate his concern is far beyond where we are right now, which is largely just “No” on his part. The book was quick to read, and it made some good points that I still recall a week later, so it was worth the investment in time, even if it’s not exactly suited to where our family is right now.

Comments are closed.