The Explosive Child A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inﬂexible Children R W. G , P .D. OSS REENE H In memory of Irving A. Greene Anyone can become angry, that is easy... but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way...t his isn ot easy. —Aristotle If I am not for myself, who is for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when? —Hillel Illusions are the truths we live by until we know better. —Nancy Gibbs Contents Epigraph iii Acknowledgments vii Preface xi 1 The Wafﬂe Episode 1 2 Children Do Well If They Can 11 3 Pathways and Triggers 23 4 Pathways and Triggers Brought to Life 49 5 The Truth About Consequences 73 6 Plan B 85 v vi Contents 7 Learning Curves 131 8 Teach Your Children Well 177 9 Family Matters 205 10 Better Living Through Chemicals 231 11 The Plan B Classroom 243 12 Now Is the Time 271 Additional Resources and Support 277 Index 283 About the Author Credits Cover Copyright About the Publisher Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge the contributions of my valued colleague and friend, Dr. Stu- art Ablon, whose insights and energy have been instru- mental in the evolution of the Collaborative Problem Solving approach. I am also indebted, as always, to my agent and friend, Wendy Lipkind. My thinking about how to help explosive children and their adult caretakers has been inﬂuenced by many parents, teachers, and supervisors. It was my incredible good fortune to have been mentored by Dr. Thomas Ol- lendick while I was a graduate student in the clinical psy- vii viii Acknowledgments chology program at Virginia Tech. Two psychologists who supervised me during my training years were partic- ularly inﬂuential: Drs. George Clum at Virginia Tech and Mary Ann McCabe at Children’s National Medical Cen- ter in Washington, D.C. And I probably wouldn’t have gone into psychology in the ﬁrst place if I hadn’t stum- bled across the path of Dr. Elizabeth Altmaier when I was an undergraduate at the University of Florida. However, those who were most central to the evolu- tion of many of the ideas in this book, and to whom I owe the greatest debt of gratitude, were the many chil- dren with whom I’ve worked and the parents who en- trusted me with their care. I also want to acknowledge the countless people throughout the world who have embraced the Collabo- rative Problem Solving approach and, against the odds but with vision and energy and relentless determination, have advocated for implementation of the approach in their schools, clinics, inpatient units, and residential and juvenile detention facilities. There are truly amazing people in this world who care deeply about improving the lives of children, and it has been my privilege to have crossed paths with many of you. This book is about children and families, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge my own: my wife, Melissa; my kids, Talia and Jacob, who keep me laughing and learning and make sure I practice what I preach; and Sandy, the Big Black Dog.