Book: The Explosive Child
Author: Ross W. Greene, Ph. D.
Publisher: HarperCollins
Copyright: 1998, 2001, 2005, 2010, 2014
Pages: 263
11/ 24/2015
Hours: 3

Dr. Greene has reframed the “look” of a child with uncontrollable behavior. He postulates that these child are not ultimately “bratty, bossy, or out of control” because they want to be. These children do not know how to deal with problems in an appropriate manner. Rather than being viewed as having unpredictable behavior, adults can learn their “triggers” and work with the child to solve problems. The behaviors are predictable but often can be difficult to get to the real reason for the behavior. Children with challenging behavior lack the skills to respond adaptively when faced with demands. These skills are noted as “flexibility, adaptability, frustration, tolerance, and problem solving”. The adult response needs to change in order to address problems collaboratively rather than unilaterally. The typical diagnoses of ODD, ADHD, ED, etc. do not help in understanding the underlying problem. Dr. Greene explores a course of action that defines what he calls a “lagging skill” and how to associate it with an unsolved problem. Numerous examples of this are provided. Dr. Greene provides on his website a form entitled Assessment of Lagging Skills and Unresolved Problems (ALSUP) for parents to complete to start the process of changing their mindset about why these behaviors occur and how to address them proactively.

He presents three plans to resolve unsolved problems. Plan A (unilateral problem solving primarily by the adult), Plan B (collaborative problem solving with parent and child) and Plan C (temporarily setting aside a problem completely) are explained and the rationale behind each one as to how to address issues before the behaviors arises. Plan A is rarely productive. Episodes usually escalate and nothing gets resolved. Adults provide the solutions. There are three steps under Plan B: Empathy, Define the Problem, and the Invitation. To be effective and durable solutions must include both child and parent and collaboratively. During the Empathy step, the parent draws out the child through a process called “drilling” so the child can express their concerns on why something is occurring. Through the Define the Problem step, the parent shares their concern(s) about the situation. The Invitation step allows a discussion of a solution that is “mutually satisfactory”. Plan C is necessary to table some problems at the moment but should not be forgotten.

Dr. Greene’s website clearly explains the premise behind his proactive solution as opposed to an approach of punishment and consequences. On his website he provides forms and checklists (some of which are attached to this summary) to follow as a guide to facilitate a more effective dialogue by outlining problems and solutions, provide the proper questioning when “drilling”, outline the steps of Plan B, and a chart to outline a problem solving plan, for example. It must be noted that this process requires a great paradigm shift in how to assist children and parents resolve what has been deemed uncontrollable behavior. His approach can be used between parent and child, an teacher acting as a facilitator with two or more students, and also a teacher acting as a facilitator with parent and child. It requires a great deal of focus and practice initially. However, over time Dr. Greene believes it gets easier and less time is spent addressing unsolved problems with more durable results.