Originally Posted by neonalee
I've read the explosive child twice. To follow the advice there I would quite literally have to let him do ANYTHING he wanted at ANYTIME.
OK so I got that book too. Wow. I had some aha moments there. My kiddo can be like this. What a great book!
So, let's see. Here's how I interpret it...
1. Kids want to behave well. They really do. If they could, they would.
2. Some kids ("Explosive Kids") don't have the skills to handle change, frustration, and challenges well.
3. It can't be fixed with more rigid rules and consequences.
4. They need empathy and they need to know they are heard. We need to understand their challenges as they perceive them.
5. As parents, our job is to help give them the skills they need to handle change, frustration, and challenges in ways that are socially acceptable and not destructive.
6. This will take time and requires our patience.
The Explosive Child says the traditional methods don't work; these methods actually sometimes make it worse (particularly punishment).
He ALWAYS does the opposite. Giving choices doesn't matter. He won't make one. He just gives attitude "HMPH!" and/or turns his back. Making a choice for him, he immediately FREAKS OUT and wants whatever the other choice is. If you then say ok do that, back to the attitude & refusal. Taking toys/privileges away didn't matter. Trying to emphasize or talk doesn't matter. Trying to teach words to help him tell us what's going on doesn't matter. Accountable Kids board (letting him be responsible & rewarding for it) doesn't work.
So don't use those methods.
First it says you need to figure out what skills your child needs to learn. And then you need to determine his triggers (the situations when he tends to explode). You say
He's so predictable that my step daughter tells him to make the meanest face he can at her in order to get him to stop.
So maybe you can pinpoint when these issues are likely to occur and then you can preplan to try to deal with it?
Then The Explosive Child suggests two plans:
First is to let go of all the small stuff. Let him have his way on all those little things that don't matter (or don't matter as much as the bigger issues right now). You can come back to those issues later after you've given your child more skills.
Second, collaborate with your child on the important issues. Discuss with them their feelings and figure out strategies together. Do this when they are calm, not when the issue arises. (This may be why you say "trying to empathize or talk doesn't matter" - because doing it in the moment and expecting an immediate change isn't the method - the method is to talk when the child is calm.) This is going to take time, multiple conversations, and it's probably going to frustrate you. But in the long run it's worth it.
The book make the analogies between learning the skills of dealing with frustration and learning the skill of reading. It likens learning to handle change (unexpected events) to learning to do simple math. And learning to solve life problems or challenges is similar to learning how to ride a bike or swim. These are real skills that take time to learn and practice. They cannot be learned alone in timeout. They cannot be learned when the brain is flooded with emotion. They cannot be learned through spankings or loss of privileges. They can't even be learned through empathy or being heard (those are important as first steps in making a connection and solving the problem but this part doesn't teach the skills the child needs).
He breaks it down into steps:
2. Define the Problem
3. Invite the child to brainstorm solutions
I think some of the things discussed in the book are mainly for older children and so this may not really work for our age child. But I think it's worth a try to really give this method a go. It's not about just letting him do whatever he wants. It's about listening and trying to figure out the issues he's got and then help give him the skills to deal with them.
I don't know if this is going to help or not. I can't speak from experience. I'm just thinking that this book is pretty great.