Adapting The Explosive Child For Younger Children

Discussion in 'FAQ, Site Help, and Resources' started by SRL, Oct 21, 2006.

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  1. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Original Question by Laurensmyprincess--posted March 06,2006:

    My question is this. The book and the approach around collabrative problem solving seems geared more for an older child who can understand and articulate. My difficult child is not yet 4. She will be 4 in June. Can I modify these techniques so that an almost 4 year old will understand??

    Some of it sounds like is is more suited for an older child.

    Anyone try it with a child so young? Any advice?

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  2. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by SRL:

    Yes, you can modify the techniques. When I first read it it gave me the impression it was for teens. I haven't peeked at the latest edition yet but I was hoping to see some examples appropriate for younger children. Do you have the newest edition?

    For the place many parents are at who land here, collaborative problem solving is more of the end they hope to achieve and not the place to start. Your starting point should be to start closely observing the whole picture (your behavior, her responses to you, her behavior, interaction between others in the household, responses to outside experiences or stimuli, etc). Your early goals should be 1) doing what can be done to reduce/prevent/minimize meltdowns and 2) modifying your treatment of her in order to start undoing her knee jerk reaction to authority (which I'm assuming she has or you probably wouldn't be here).

    I thought I was really pretty good at choosing my battles before I read the book and after putting it into practice I wanted to kick myself for the many times I had actually made my difficult child's behavior worse simply because I was determined to win a particular battle. My actions were well meant, but they didn't get us anywhere except further away from where I wanted to be!

    As you begin to focus in on these two areas, typically a parent will start to see some degree of success. As the parent becomes more skilled with these strategies, often the child will fall out of the habit of responding negatively and meltdowns will come further and further apart. Collaborative problem solving starts to come in when you have a child who is calmer and less knee jerky and that varies from child to child depending on many factors (including how severe they were to begin with and how consistent the parent is with the methods). And as you said, a younger child won't necessarily have the ability to engage in a lot of rationalization but any is better than none!

    Things were pretty tough I landed here and there was a period there when only safety issues were in basket A and we ignored all other behavior or gave it only a minor mention. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done turning and walking away from the hateful language that would sometime come out of the mouth. But it did what it was intended to do and that was to stop fueling him so he didn't have to keep heaping it on in order to feel like he had some control. We went from that low point to a point where problem solving has become the norm so I'm a true believer.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  3. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by Andrea Danielle:

    Great question, I have had the same issues. I had bought the DVD of the Explosive Child and was all set to get started, it works really well on my 8 year old but I was finding it challenging on my 4 year old difficult child. I would be trying to put forward both of our perspectives so that we could start problem solving and he would be screaming at me, not listening to anything I have been saying. We seem to be moving there slowly. At least it does help me to choose my battles, even though other parents give me dirty looks when I allow him to get away with certain things at the playground that PCs would never be allowed to do.

    Thanks for asking this question. I would love to hear more suggestions for making this technique work on little ones.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by Kris:

    there isn't a thing in any behavior plan that can't be modified. absolutely nothing is set in stone. modify away!!! any plan you choose to use has to accomodate your family & it's lifestyle. if you need help with-it feel free to ask for help.

    for a not quite 4yo i would try to keep basket A to one major behvior....two in basket B....everything else in basket C. any behavior plan takes time to become effective.....months can pass before you see any results.
    so what behavior is the one that causes the most trouble??? or what's your top three ~~~ maybe we can help you select what should be the first basket A. one thing to take into consideration is you should pick something that she can master fairly easily so she can feel pride in her accomplishment?? we're always happy to help you brainstorm.

    just tossing out some ideas for you.

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  5. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by laurensmyprincess:

    Thank you Kris!

    First let me say how filled with HOPE I was to read your profile that states your difficult child is now the easy child. Inspiration!

    difficult child's major behavior issues
    - does not listen! Gets more defiant if you tell her to do something she doesnt want to do even if you tell her nicely
    - sticker charts and timeouts don't work for her (at least they havent to date)- she ges more defiant if you yell at her or get angry
    - doesnt play well with the kids at daycare knocks down blocks "just because"
    - hitting (this is sometimes a problem, but not terrible).I'Tourette's Syndrome like she understands what you are saying and she knows right from wrong, but she continues to do wrong!!!

    Thanks for your help.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  6. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by Marguerite:

    She sounds like she needs positive motivation and a lot of immediacy. Baby steps, too. Negative reinforcement tends to not work well with difficult children and "The Explosive Child" makes this clear.

    For example, when trying to bowel-train difficult child 3 (he was VERY late) we taped a mini box of M & Ms to the toilet wall, nice and high. The box was only his once he did No 2s in the loo. The positive reinforcement helped him get over his fear of the toilet and also encouraged him to keep trying.

    You can use the same thing with charts, once they're old enough to cope with the inevitable delayed reward or charts. Thing is, if a bedwetting child has dry pants iin the morning, you can either put a sticker on a chart (which mightn't mean much to a four-year-old) or you can give a small, tangible material reward. Better still, do both. The child can then look at the chart and see the star that corresponds to a treat she has received at the same time. It helps her remember. And if she has the promise of a larger treat when she reaches a certain REALISTIC target, then she should make the connection.

    The problems we had were in trying to step down the rewards. We had to eventually stop handing out M & Ms because he finally got the knack. So we talked it over with him and said he could have a box of M&Ms for getting through a week with dry, clean pants.

    With really young kids, you need to have most stuff in Basket C and often only one or two things in Basket B. Along with this is the positive motivation to achieve certain targets. Technically these aren't basket issues at all, because non-achjievement = no reward (ie nothing), but achievement results in positive feedback and hopefully connections being made. It sidesteps the basket system. Once a new skill is achieved, THEN maybe it moves into Basket B. "Remember? You did so well last week, see if you can do as well this week too, I'm so proud of my clever girl!" If she falls of the wagon, don't criticise, just hug her and say, "Better luck next time. You can do it with practice, I have faith in you.

    "You haven't mentioned her diagnosis in your signature - does she have one? Another suggestion - if she has a series of things to do, such as jobs to do to get ready for pre-school, can you give her a written list? If she's not reading words, put in pictures beside the words. Break up the tasks, so the chart reads, "1. Get out of bed. 2. Get dressed. 3. Put shoes and socks on. 4. Eat breakfast. 5. Clean teeth. 6. Make sure bag is packed and ready." and so on. Put a small square at the end of each task and cover the whole lot in clear contact. A sticker or white-board pen will help her tick off each task as she goes, which helps them feel important and also feel they are achieving things. They love to feel in control.If you are reluctant to let her have her hands on a white board pen, use velcro dots, and a strip of velcro at the bottom can hold a series of "Yippee!" stickers which she can put on each dot to show she's done the job. Her bedroom door is a good place for the chart. This one might work because it is a chart SHE can control.

    Another good chart for such kids - a calendar chart with velcro for the different days/months/weather icons. Let her put up the right date with your support.

    Charts should work, but some kids need to feel in control in some areas, at least. It's good to let them have control in some areas that don't matter to you, so they will let you control what YOU need to. The best way to handle kids like this is to slowly give them more control over themselves, as they show they can handle it. For example, I have to support difficult child 3 to begin his schoolwork and some days he's really slow to get started. But once he starts, he just keeps on working as long as he's not interrupted. He has learnt to self-motivate at a much younger age than many kids, despite being much more immature and much more dependent. And because he feels in control of what work he chooses to do (out of what has been provided), it makes it easier for him to deal with work he dislikes and subjects that scare him. he knows he must finish ALL Unit 6 work before it can be considered completed. He knows he can bend the rules by doing some Unit 7 work he likes if he knows he's having a bad day and there's still UNit 6 incomplete. However, the undone work now nags at his conscience. I'm not the one nagging.

    He's now 12 but emotionally about 5. We began to use "The Explosive Child" on him in earnest only six months ago. Some of the techniques we had independently discovered back when he was three and four. He has NEVER responded well to punishment, but ALWAYS does better with rewards and encouragement. Some people say he's spoilt, but the proof is iin the pudding - we're getting results from a supposedly uneducable, "borderline" kid with major social deficits.

    Good luck. You can do it. Keep working on it and picking our brains where necessary.

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  7. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by kris:

    i've never had success with-behavior charts....mainly because i'm too lazy to keep track of everything & i find them way to nitpicky.

    hitting....that is a safety issue so that would be the first behavior i would tackle. can you come up with-a consequence you think will make her stop & think? that she'll react to.

    as for chores, etc., i would definitely basket B those.

    go back & reread the section on redirection. if you can redirect her before she goes into vapor lock hopefully she can learn to redirect herself when the urge to hit is upon her. talk to the teachers about watching for those triggers & get them to redirect her when they see her going into hit mode. ask them to read the book also. gift the school with-a copy or two. reinforce the idea to the teachers that this is not instant coffee & they will have to be diligent in redirecting her. the key to redirection is to get to her before she gets too close to actually swinging at someone. consequences must be immediate. you cannot be responsible for consequencing her for something she did at at school. i believe firmly in what happens at school should stay at school. talk to them about the kind of consequences they feel are appropriate for hitting.....probably some time away from the other kids i would think. the key here is getting home & school on the same page.

    with-basket B stuff you get to decide if you are willing to risk meltdown to get her to pick up her toys. i find that chore a tad overwhelming so i always had my kids help me do pick up. husband always felt they should do it alone & if it wasn't done the way he wanted he'd start yelling. i finally told him to never mind....i'd help them :rolleyes: :Hot Head: :rolleyes: .

    don't expect magic. behavior mod is a long, hard road most times. you might want to go to . it's an excellent site & last time i checked....ages ago....dr. greene actually came & answered questions/gave advice.kris
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  8. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by kris:

    had a couple more thoughts.

    i don't see in the profile that princess has ever been evaluated. since she is just approaching 4 i would recommend that you get in tough with-her school district & request an evaluation be done to see if she qualifies for their special needs preschool. these programs are usually excellent...small groupings, lots of aides available, & there should be plenty of parental involvement. i used to have all my foster kids evaluated. write the head of special education in your district. briefly outline your dua's issues (don't overload them with-info as there will be time for that later). i wouldn't leave this evaluation until she's in kindergarten & already floundering.

    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  9. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Kris and Marguerite,

    Thanks SO much for your wonderful advice. It's so reassuring to talk and get advice with moms who have gone before me! I appreciate your support and will most definetly try your suggestions...!By the way, Princess is not yet "diagnosed". We see a neuropsychologist at the end of March. I will let you know what revelations we get! I am hopeful.

  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by SRL:

    I'm glad you mentioned this concern. I'm going to put down some thoughts and examples and then we can archive it before it drops off the board. This is too long for one post so it will be in multiple postings.

    You can think of the goal of this entire "The Explosive Child"; parenting strategy as working towards having a child who is (or who will be) calm enough to rationalize instead of immediately overreacting to anything even suggestive of compromising their control. Where your starting point will be depends on many factors including age and developmental stage of the child, speech/language skills of the child, how inflexible the child is, how emotionally stable the child is, how much of this strategy you've already incorporated into your parenting style, how consistent adults in the child's life are in applying the method, and how determined or desperate---you are to stick with it to make it work. :) Parents who stick with it often see some results fairly quickly but consider this to be a gradual process in which the child will become better at collaborative problem solving skills as they mature.

    Your overall game plan for preschoolers is going to look something like this:1) Think "prevention" when it comes to behavioral issues and move away from consequences and discipline.2) Take a preventative approach to avoiding meltdowns; and once a meltdown has started, take steps to minimize it. 3) Help the child overcome their habit of responding negatively to authority. 4) Help build collaborative problem solving skills as the child is ready/able.

    There are two critical application points for you as parents that need to constantly on the forefront of your mind. Being flexible means:
    1) Constantly stopping and thinking "How will my words and actions impact his/her behavior?" before immediately carrying through.
    2) Keeping your eye on the TRUE short-term goal before answering or take action. ie Your goal is to keep a child safe in cold weather. So that means it's important the child be covered but not necessary for that to be a winter coat with hat and gloves.

    Look for ways of responding that accomplishes your goal but makes the child think they have retained control!!!

    To start you will want to think through what your Basket A-willing-to-have-a-meltdown-for-issues should be. We always recommend starting with safety issues only and adding to those once you get the hang of things. These would be issues like running in the road, biting, hitting, running around with a sucker in the mouth, etc.

    Basket B issues would be those things that are pretty important but not critical. This would be like getting something to cover them on a cold day when you only have to run from the car into preschool but they won't be playing outside for hours. Traditional parenting mode says that the child should obey you when you tell them to put on coat, hat and gloves. The Explosive Child parenting says that the TRUE short-term goal is keeping them warm enough to be safe and a sweatshirt or blanket would be just as suitable.

    Basket C is where you should be chucking most of your issues to start. Lots of things that you once thought mattered a lot (instant obedience, hanging up the coat, picking up toys, etc.) can go in here right now. When your child is (hopefully) more compliant and you are more skilled you can start moving things into the other baskets. At first it will seem like you are both spoiling the child and losing ground but if a child responds well to this method, parents usually find they make progress instead of spinning their wheels in a never ending battle of the wills.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  11. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    What you want to do is to come at this from all directions and that means first adjusting your own behaviors and your manner of interacting with the child. This often is the hardest hurdle to get over for those of us who have traditional authoritative parenting on the brain. We have a set of expectations that we think the child should be able to manage due to their age and developmental stage and what we hope is that they will rise to meet those expectations. Instead in terms of compliance they seem stuck in Tired Toddler Mode when they don't get their way only it's worse because they are older and stronger. When a child isn't able to rise to meet your expectations it is critical to meet them where they are. Come along side them instead and meet them where they are and often you will start seeing them not as children who won't comply; but as children who for some reason because of their neurological makeup can't comply.

    Remember, work toward reducing meltdowns, be flexible, and start making adjustments so as to reduce your child's knee jerk reaction to authority. Ideally you will come at this from different angles.

    What you say and how you say it can make a huge difference to an inflexible child. Start thinking of the alternatives to the immediate response of "No" because that word alone usually sets them off. We can talk about that later, how about a choice between X & Y, give me a few minutes to think, why would that be good right now, how about half right now and the other half after supper, etc. When parents start really observing their own speech many find they are dishing out a lot more "No" and its variations then they realize.

    Another important skill to develop is working through an issue by giving choices at every step of the way. For example, my son would often want pancakes for breakfast but setting a plate of pancakes and syrup down in front of him would often result in an overturned plate of pancakes and a child who was too upset to eat, either as a result of his own tantrum or my disciplining him for his actions. I didn't know it at the time but there were some sensory issues at work.

    A traditional style parent might say "You asked for pancakes so you need to eat them. I'm not making you anything else. Or: "You dumped them so you can just go hungry until snack time."

    An Easy Child parent is going to make a preemptive strike by using a string of questions along the way. Obviously this takes more time than just plopping the pancakes on the table but the extra minute or so to work through the process with the child involved at every step is a small investment to avoid the ordeal of a meltdown. "Would you like pancakes or cereal for breakfast?" Pancakes: "Would you like those pancakes frozen or warmed up in the microwave?" Warmed up: "Would you like them cut up with syrup or syrup in a bowl for dipping?" For dipping...

    Involving the child in all of the choices greatly reduces the chance that they will feel threatened that the parent is making choices for them and being insistent. It keeps control in their hands but still accomplishes the parent's goal of getting the child fed.

    Another example would be a child who demands a cookie 30 minutes before supper time. The parent is faced with a big dilemma: Do you give in to the demand and risk the chance of ruining supper or do you stick to your guns? If the child does the distance and has a meltdown the chances are high they won't be eating supper anyway. This means evaluating the possible outcomes and working towards the one that will do the least damage towards accomplishing your goals of keeping the child calm and getting the child fed. Some solutions might be:
    -Offer the child supper right away
    -Offer the child supper right away with a promise they can have the cookie right afterwards
    -Offer an alternative to the cookie
    -Offer a smaller portion such as a mini cookie or half.
    -Give them the cookie now and give them supper later

    Sometimes eliminating the problem is the best with preschool age kids. In your head you may have the expectation that he/she should be able to leave the glass vase on the coffee table alone. Traditional parenting would have you continue to work with the child to bring them to compliance. Easy Child parenting thinks through all aspects and comes to the conclusion that a) this is a potential safety issue and b) worth a fight or not worth a fight and c) even though this child is of an age they should be learning this for some reason they aren't ready to meet my expectation. So the glass vase gets packed up and put away. It's not uncommon for parents of explosive, inflexible children to have to increase the level of baby proofing when they hit preschool age.

    Sometimes a creative solution might involve making some significant changes to avoid meltdown spots. When my child was 3-4ish he started having HUGE meltdowns over clothes. This was back in the days we didn't suspect a thing beyond his being brilliant and super strong willed and hadn't even heard of Sensory Integration Dysfunction or rigidity that goes along with Autism. But I did know enough to know that continuing on and insisting he wear certain clothes was going to guarantee meltdowns, loads of attention away from my other children, and induce more stubbornness on his part. I took a good look at his closet and found the things he was mostly likely to comply with wearing were navy blue Healthtex knit pants with elastic waistbands and colorful striped short sleeved t-shirts. It was time to buy more clothes anyway so I bought six pairs of identical navy blue Healthtex knit pants and short sleeved t-shirts in the same style but two color choices. Plus enough socks in the same color and style for every day and two pairs of identical tennis shoes, one which was kept for church. The end result was a huge reduction in meltdowns over clothes and we were all much happier when he wasn't throwing his clothes down the stairs in a huge fit and sitting in the chair as a consequence of "bad" behavior.

    Another parent solved the same problem by finding her daughter a lycra body suit to wear under regular clothes so the variations wouldn't feel like an assault every time she got dressed.

    Another creative solution example would be what I wound up doing with my oldest who is a typical child but a little sensory sensitive. Around ages 4-5 getting dressed resulted in an almost daily fit. He's pretty mild mannered so that was a clue to me that we needed a different strategy. I made up brightly colored tags with holes to go over a clothes hangar such as you would see hanging over a sale item on a rack. On each tag I wrote the various things my son would have to get dressed for: Monday Preschool, Monday Play, Tuesday Home, Wednesday Preschool, Sunday School, Awana, Special, etc. and them I had them laminated. When I had done up the laundry he and I would sit down together and put a top and bottom together, put the tag over the hangar and hang it in the closet. It eliminated clothes wars almost entirely with him. What I had tried to accomplish every morning before preschool either by picking out an outfit for him or having him be involved in the selection was totally solved by doing the same thing in a different way.

    Mealtime is often another challenging area when you are dealing with inflexible kids. Our expectation is that for the most part a preschool child should be sitting at the table eating with the family and learning good manners. TEC parent will of course take this when they get it but again, they keep their eye on the short-term goal which is getting something nutritious in the child and preventing a Meltdown a la Overhungry Preschooler. When mealtime is a source of conflicts, change your strategy. Sometimes if the problems are really severe it's helpful to abandon "mealtime" altogether to help the child out of the habit of expecting a battle the minute they sit down at the table.

    Solutions often come in the form of a combination of changes:
    -Not using the terms breakfast, lunch and dinner if they've come to be associated with a negative or battle experience
    -offering the child nutritious food they like (ie dry unsweetened cereal or a peanut butter sandwich) instead of what has been prepared for the family
    -Feed the child when they are hungry and not by the clock
    -Offer the child nutritious foods away from the table and family. Setting a bowl of crackers or carrots down by a child when they are watching a show or playing with some toys and walking away without a word is non-threatening to their control and often will work when nothing else does.

    Many parents don't want to give up control of mealtime, partly because it can be inconvenient but also because of the expectation they have that the child should be learning age appropriate mealtime behaviors. Parents who give up control typically find that their child is ready to come back to the table and progress in this area in a shorter time than parents who continue to fight the mealtime battle with inflexible little people.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2009
  12. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Continued by SRL:

    All of us are accustomed to negotiating with older toddlers but at that stage it usually looks more like giving the toddler a few choices you can live with and then insisting (ie forcing the coat on) when they won’t participate in the selection process. The next step up is giving choices with room for the child’s input and for the parent to be willing take their opinion into consideration and that really is collaborative problem solving. This is a very important skill to develop in an inflexible child so give it careful attention and practice on the small, unimportant stuff!

    Example: The child picks out a long sleeved shirt for an 80-degree day. Traditional style parenting –especially if the parent is in a hurry—is often short and to the point “You’re going to be hot today. Go change into a short sleeved shirt."

    The TEC parent will handle that same scenario by trying to work towards the true short-term goal of keeping the child reasonably cool:
    “I see you’ve picked out a long sleeved shirt today. I think you might be hot in that.”
    “But I want pink!”“Pink is a great color. But it’s going to be hot today. I see you’ve already picked out a pair of blue jeans. If you want to wear that long sleeved shirt maybe we can find some other bottoms or shorts that might be cooler for you. Would you like to wear sandals with that too?”

    When we read about collaborative problem solving with an older child in mind, we think of fairly involved interactive conversations. With little ones, think of even shorter negotiations or decision-making together as collaborative problem solving. You are simply applying the method to their developmental level.

    All of the things already mentioned can work together towards making a significant difference in preventing meltdowns. But as a parent of a preschooler or young elementary aged child it’s often important to go further. Meltdown prevention means careful planning and willingness to be flexible on all but the most important issues. Inflexible, explosive children are more prone to be effected by things such as being tired, hunger, illness, changes in routines, and overstimulation than typical children and it’s important to take this into account throughout each and every day.

    For instance, taking a preschooler to Walmart after they’ve spent half the day in preschool and the other half at daycare puts yourself at high risk of meltdown. It’s a sensory nightmare, they’re tired and hungry, the parent is usually rushed, and the lines are usually long. These are situations you want to avoid—plan ahead, go to a quieter store, go at a better time, bring along a snack or juice to give the child while waiting in line, etc. to avoid placing a child in a situation they have little hope of success.

    If you do decide to do Walmart with an inflexible child you will stand a much better chance of surviving if you go when the child is well rested and fed, by taking the inflexible child alone without siblings in tow, going at a time when the crowds are low instead of after work or on Saturdays, keeping it short, make one stop instead of 3-4, etc. And most important of all, be willing to abandon the trip if things start going bad. This is a hardship for single parents and a pain for the rest of us but a carefully timed and planned trip can make the difference between meltdown and non-meltdown.

    As you get good at this technique you will find yourself being far more flexible: drawing fewer lines in the sand, and to their way of thinking being less of a threat to their retaining control. You will be making fewer demands and using language that isn’t strong and threatening as you try to get them to cooperate as opposed to obey. You will be ignoring more words and behaviors that you once would have jumped all over.

    There are still times when all of that won’t work and you need to go one step further and totally give in and give up the fight. There are times such as in the Shopping Gone Bad scenario above that the best solution is simply to abandon what you are doing or give in. This is especially true if the child is very explosive, unstable, or you are awaiting an evaluation and don’t know the cause(s) and extent of the problems yet.

    An example might be if the pancakes mentioned earlier get to the table and the child sees they are a little doughy in the center or gets hysterical because of some holes in them. To us those seem like ridiculous reasons to get upset and it’s exasperating. But to a child let’s say with Sensory Integration Dysfunction those could be truly hysteria inducing situations. There are times when in the interest of avoiding a meltdown/getting to work/making it to a doctor’s appointment on time it is worth tossing the pancakes and starting fresh with a new breakfast.

    Giving in or giving up a fight typically doesn’t rest well with us due to our traditional authoritative parenting mindset. An outside or occasional observer will often look critically upon it because at a glance it looks like the parent is weak and being controlled by the child and that they are spoiling the child. Easy Child parents have to think in the long term because they recognize that giving up a fight on a little issue is hopefully working towards their overall goal.

    Once parents get skilled with this they come to see this as another helpful tool in their arsenal.
  13. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    THE Easy Child PARENT’S BAG OF TRICKSEC parents of preschoolers frequently come to realize that having some tricks up their sleeves for “critical moments” is an effective strategy. Besides reducing meltdowns, the reality is that there simply are some times when cooperation is necessary, whether that’s getting out the door for an important meeting, cooperating for a doctor’s appointment, or going to and participating in a therapy that the child doesn’t particularly like. Incentives can be a huge help in getting some kids over a hurdle, often simply by providing a mental distraction from the resistance/defiance mode. To be most effective, these should be simple and be immediately available. Charts often don't work for these kids, especially when they are young.

    -To a resistant child who is fussing about getting on shoes you might casually mention that you have X (Tic-tac, small piece of candy, juice box, new book) waiting for them in the car.
    -Arrange your schedule so special things you might do anyway fall after an undesirable event. Go to the park after the trip to the doctor. Stop for lunch after the weekly therapy session. Offer to stop and look at toys at the end of your shopping trip.
    -Get a dollar store or thrift shop toy you have stashed away and would probably give them anyway after doing a particular errand.

    You obviously don’t want every activity in life prompted by an incentive but for a short time, to get over a hurdle, and/or help settle down a very difficult or unstable child, incentives can be very useful tools.

    Easy Child PARENTING
    Parenting Explosive Child style takes far more time, effort, self-control and creativity than traditional parenting methods. But those of us who have used it successfully will tell you that it is well worth the effort. Children who respond well to this approach often will calm down, be less explosive, become more flexible, and develop problem solving/rationalization skills that they wouldn’t necessarily had they been constantly bombarded with demands.
  14. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by laurensmyprincess:

    SRL, THANK YOU!!!!!

    This is awesome stuff! I really appreciate this and I'm sure many parents of younger children coming along will find this most helpful.

    I am printing this forum topic right now...

  15. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Reply by Andrea Danielle:

    SRL, this is really helpful for me too!!

    One thing I have a challenge with is getting so frustrated him my difficult child that I just pick him up and carry him when he is being unreasonable. I hate to admit that I sometimes do it in a very angry way too. :grief: (It is usually after he has hurt his older brother and he won't come with me to go to his room). I feel awful when I do it and it makes things worse because then of course he explodes. My question is, after trying hard not to get into a power struggle by using the techniques you suggest, how long do you just keep trying to do the TEC approach with a 4 year old who just won't negotiate or be reasonable? Is picking them up and forcing them to do what you want them to do really, really bad???

    Sorry for cutting into your post Rose, but I know you have the same question
  16. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Don't worry about hijacking the thread, Andrea. Getting this strategy up and running is often key to survival and beyond.

    It's pretty safe to say there isn't one of us who hasn't hauled a difficult child preschooler (and non-difficult child preschooler, if we have them) off when we're good and angry. That's just being human. Sometimes there are times when hauling them against their will is the only option, such as when they are in danger.

    All 4 year olds are still iffy on being reasonable and vary greatly on negotiating skills. How far you go ideally should go back to those 2 key issues--is it safety related and is it worth risking a meltdown for given your families circumstances at that particular time. What I think is good to do in a situation like this is have a "menu" of ideas thought out in advance to choose from. If you have 2 parents at home so the other kids are taken care of and time to kill on a Saturday you might opt to take the route with the higher risk. If you're on the way out the door to church, take the low road. If the child is very unstable or explosive for reason such as medication change or waiting for evaluation, take the low road.

    Ideas from low risk to high risk of meltdown:
    1) Ignore the issue
    2) Verbally reprimanding the child then choosing to ignore the issue. Don't say another word--drop it.

    3) Something that might work in the difficult child hitting older sibling scenario you described is to remove the older sibling instead. That way you can deal with difficult child in a hands off manner. If you have an aggressive difficult child in the house it is critical that the siblings learn to obey you when you instruct them to move out in a discipline situation. No, it's not fair sometimes but life isn't fair as we all know. Another option that sometimes works for me is when the child is behaving badly, instead of removing them to their room, have everyone else leave. Verbally inform them that their behavior isn't anything the rest of the family wants to be around and then head for another part of the house and do something fun like a game together. This won't work for every kid and/or every time but it's worth trying. My difficult child acts like it doesn't matter at first but it does to him.

    4) Having a disciplinary action that can be used cautiously. When my son hit, he sat on the stairs until the timer went off. He did that again and again and again. Sitting on the stairs made him very unhappy and sometimes quite mad, but it usually didn't produce the rage that hauling him off to his room would. The stairs were near the center of the house so it was usually a close distance from wherever we were plus he wasn't isolated.

    5) in my opinion, except when danger is at hand, hauling out is should be something that is saved as a last resort, just as any other action that's going to result in a sure explosion. It should be saved for Basket A issues only and not the small stuff. This is especially so as the child gets older (and I would say 4 is when you ideally want to wind this down) because they will only get stronger and angrier and more rage-ful. The day is approaching when you will not be able to handle them so it's important to find other ways that work if you can.

    There are times when you may decide you're willing and able to use a higher risk method and you see the child reacting far more strongly than you had anticipated. That's a good time to switch gears with these smaller kids and drop back to something with a lower risk of meltdown. In explosive kids, meltdowns erase the lesson that you are trying to get through so go there seldom.

    Focus on prevention, and go to higher risk methods such as consequences only when it's a Basket A issue and when you can handle the fallout. If it's improbable they will learn any lesson from what you're about to do, think twice and consider opting for a lower risk action. In the case of hitting siblings, you might choose to remove your explosive child to their room to keep the other child safe, but if there's no lesson to be learned you are putting yourself and the child through a meltdown for nothing.

    Does this help?
  17. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Thank you SRL, this helps a lot. Ross Green should use this as a basis for a new chapter focused on younger explosive children!
  18. battlewearyteary

    battlewearyteary New Member

    i am new to this although my child has been this way since he hit 3 and is now 5 1/2. i just bought 'the spirited child'. do you only follow dr. green or have you had success with this book as well
  19. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    I haven't read "The Spirited Child" so I can't comment on it. We don't officially follow "The Explosive Child" (or the site doesn't endorse it) however many parents have found it invaluable in helping their inflexible child.
    Come out and start your own post, battlewearyteary, so we can give you a proper welcome!
  20. battlewearyteary

    battlewearyteary New Member

    hi. i have a 5 1/2 year old son and also a 10 year old daughter and 12 year old son. thank god only the third one is difficult to live with. we have just started the process of having his assessed at an anxiety clinic at a children's hospital and the indications that i have been given is that there is no real underlying diagnosis to his explosive/inflexible behavior at this point in time. this leaves me feeling slightly reassured but overwhelmingly helpless with the day to day fighting/anger/not compliance. my son has hurt a few children in the school setting in very impulsive/explosive ways in retaliation from feeling insulted or invaded (physical boundary issues). he is no longer in that school because the daily anxiety became too much for me and it was more of a supplementary school rather than his main one. he is now being 'shadowed' in his morning school and that has helped but we still have daily battles regarding waking up, getting dressed, going to school, separation at school, eating meals, going to bed and the list goes on. we all walk on eggshells around him for the fear of setting him off. he can be unrelenting in his begging for something, destructive in his retaliatory behavior, verbally threatening to all of his family members. sometimes it feels as if i am in an abusive relationship that i cannot get out of because i am his mother! i have concerns about things like; sending him to camp, which school would be best for him for grade one (public/private/Montessori?). he is bright and very articulate about his feelings. he has said things like 'my brain makes me do bad stuff' and that 'my brain is more powerful than me'. it makes me feel so sad knowing that he probably has limited or no control over his reactions and super sensitivities. because he is so sensitive we never know what we will do or not do to set him off. not too much of consistency in his reactions. i just know that when i hear 'HEYYYYY!' i have a new battle on my hands.
    i have read dr. greens book but not word for word. some of the material sounds too grown up for application to him. there is not much reasoning with him. constant power struggles.
    i look forward to any suggestions, stories , questions, etc.

    me: 35, mother of three, stay at home , married, have good support in general but not with people that really have experienced an IEC.
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