Top positive review
Great resource for truly coping with explosiveness
Reviewed in the United States on October 27, 2011
I read The Explosive Child after reading The Defiant Child (and attending a Douglas Riley-esque parenting class). The problem with the premise in The Defiant Child, and in most of the negative reviews on this book, is that there are many adults who cling obstinately to the belief that these children are capable of doing better than they are, and if the adult can just make said child's life difficult enough, he/she will shape up.
The problem with that line of thinking, and the subsequent "strategies" it produces, is that no matter how much I punish a child, if he/she is incapable of doing better, the issues we face will persist. It is akin to punishing a child who needs glasses for not being able to see. A much better solution all around would be to get him/her glasses.
My daughter, in the Riley worldview, would be "punishing me" or "controlling" and "manipulating." What I saw was a little girl who was so very overwhelmed by various aspects of her environment, that she had no adaptations, no ability to cope. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in a world where the way your plate is turned at dinner, or which direction your socks are facing, is so overwhelming a proposition that you lose the ability to function and/or think rationally. That's the little girl I was living with. The little girl who could blow up over the most incomprehensible thing, and for whom most of life's daily situations and frustrations were just more than she could bear.
In the calm between storms, she was (and still is) a delightful girl - funny, bright, loving, and always, always remorseful after an explosion. I knew she knew what she was doing was wrong, and moreover, she didn't want to be doing it at all. A common conversation, post-blow up, involved my baby girl, red-faced, tear soaked and shaking, saying, "Mommy, do you still love me? Even when I lose all my marbles?" What amount of punishment was going to solve that? She KNEW what she was doing was wrong, the problem was that she had no other strategies for dealing with her overwhelming frustrations.
My goal in seeking treatment for her at all in the first place was not about how I could make a phone call or waste time on the computer without her "bothering" me (actual parenting class verbiage there), but how I could soothe my daughter. If I never talked on the phone without interruption again, it would be a small price to pay to help soothe my girl - to help her cope with the stuff of life.
That's what I feel like I have gotten in this book - a set of strategies to employ, as part of a complete parenting philosophy. More importantly, it accomplishes these goals without the guiding philosophy of "I'm bigger than you, and I can inflict several different types of pain to get you to comply."
That's the best way I can describe this book: it is like getting glasses, and finally being able to see the world.