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  • Writer's pictureKatie Porter

My Child is Misbehaving! Parents Guide to Understand Your Explosive Child

Updated: Nov 16, 2021

Are you the parent or caregiver of a child that has explosive anger outbursts, becomes easily frustrated and is inflexible to the demands of life? You may have and explosive child on your hands.

A Parenting Guide to Understanding Your Explosive Child

You may have noticed that “normal” parenting strategies that may work for non-explosive children do not work for your explosive child. It is time to learn how to be supportive of your explosive child and learn to identify what your explosive child needs in order to function better at home, school, and everywhere in between.

There is a fabulous book which I refer to parents. It is called “The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children”. by Dr. Ross Greene, PhD. Dr. Greene implements what he calls the “Collaborative Problem Solving Model” (CPS Model).

Help! My Child is Misbehaving The Wellness Counseling Group

Typical parenting techniques will not work on your explosive child, so whatever you are doing to parent your child; if it is not working, then it is time to stop and try a different method. Doing the same thing over and over, or more intensely will not help you child understand his thought processes. It is time for a change.

A key element is to understand that IF your child could be more flexible, understanding, handle frustration more adaptively and solve problems better, HE WOULD. Explosive children do not always know why they explode. I’m sure some conversations with your explosive child sound much like this; “We’ve talked about this a million times already! Why can’t you just do what I ask?!”

Sound familiar? That is a type of question you want to AVOID because you’ll probably get an answer like this; “I don’t know!!” (tantrum ensues). This is most likely because your child really does not know. With this book, Dr. Greene goes into detail with case studies and advice on how to communicate better with, and understand your explosive child in an adaptive way.

Common and Incorrect Phrases to Stay AWAY From:

  • He just wants attention– Everyone wants attention. So why are some kids able to seek it positively? If your child had the skills to seek attention adaptively, he would.

  • He just wants his own way– We all want our own way. Adaptively getting one’s own way requires a lot of skills often lacking in explosive kids.

  • He’s making bad choices– This suggests that the child already has the skills to be making good choices. He doesn’t; or else he would be making good choices.

  • He has a bad attitude– Bad attitudes tend to be a byproduct of the countless years of being misunderstood and under/over-punished by adults who do not recognize that he lacks critical thinking skills.

  • He has a mental illness– No, he has a problem with living. Having a diagnosis may label a child, but it does not provide what skills he is lacking and what unresolved problems he may have.

Good parenting means being responsive to the hand you have been dealt. If what you’re doing doesn’t work, Stop and try something different.

What You Need to Know About Your Explosive Child, per Dr. Greene:

Identify your explosive child’s lagging skills. Lagging skills are the reason explosions occur. Explosive outbursts happen when the demands being placed on a child exceed his capacity to respond to adaptively. By using the CPS Model, your child (and you) will begin to learn and practice skills that he lacks as you work with him to solve problems in a much more collaborative manner. After you discover his lagging skills and unresolved problems, a much clearer picture will be painted of why your child is exploding.

Devise and work out a realistic and mutually satisfactory solution. This means gathering information about and understanding your child’s concerns on a given problem, from his point of view. As a team, you must be specific about defining the problem (who, what, when, where, why) and specific about your concerns or perspective on the same problem. Work TOGETHER to brainstorm solutions that are realistic and mutually satisfactory.

Remember: Your child WANTS to succeed. He just doesn’t have the proper skills yet.

By using the CPS Model, you will be reflecting on multiple ideas and thoughts simultaneously, having structured conversation about solving problems, considering likely outcomes or consequences of actions, considering a range of solutions to a problem, expressing concerns, needs and thoughts in words, managing emotional response to frustration in order to think rationally, and appreciating one another’s perspective.

Help! My Child is Misbehaving The Wellness Counseling Group

There are many more fascinating touchstones in Dr. Greene’s book, and if you have and explosive child I hope that you get this book and read every page. It is a life change that can help not only your child, but the whole family appreciate each other and work together as a healthy unit.

** Excerpts in this blog taken from Dr. Ross Greene, PhD.’s book, “The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children”

It can be a real challenge to get through each day if you have an explosive child. The Wellness Counseling Group invites you to reach out and let us help you take the steps to better understanding one another again.


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