Dealing With an Explosive Child

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  1. TammyHammett profile image61
    TammyHammettposted 12 years ago

    My middle child, currantly 6 years old, has an explosive personality. By this, I mean, at any given time over any given matter, she will explode. She beocmes belligerent, mouthy, yell hurtful phrases, such as "I hate you", "You are so mean", "No." We have tried various rewards/punishments to deter the behavior. Corporal punishment enrages her even more, locking her in her room until she calms down causes banging on the door and the yelling continues. Do you have an explosive child, and if so, what works or doesn't work for you? Hint, if you don't have an explosive child, trust me, you have no idea!!

    1. jdavis88 profile image88
      jdavis88posted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I have a couple of friends with children acting similarly. The trick for them seemed to be finding the right balance of taking away certain toys or priveledges and to a certain extent ignoring the bad behavior. To an extent, the child may feel like if I pitch a fit, I get what I want.

      There also can be other issues with the child. The main thing I think about when my girls are being ruthless, is remembering I love them and being willing to do whatever it takes to raise them right.

    2. profile image0
      Baileybearposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      yep, I've got one of those.  Things have improved with different strategies.  I'll write some hubs about them hopefully in the near future.  Explosive children (and adults) are both inflexible/rigid and have a low frustration threshold.  They can't think of a plan B when things don't go their way.  They seem to blow up over nothing, but really, it is something to them.

      Some things that helped me:

      Read & apply the book The Explosive Child - here's a review Child
      It's about recognising how we actually set them off, and prevent the meltdowns, and helping them problem solve. 

      Get additives like colours & preservatives out of diet (I've written a little about this; more to come)

      Could your child be a syndrome child ie Asperger's (my child is - I've written about this), ADHD, bipolar, sensory issues  etc - these things don't need meds usually, but if know what special issues are, can address

    3. renegadetory profile image60
      renegadetoryposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Have you tested your daughter for allergies?

      My oldest daughter would throw herself into a rage over nothing, yelling, screaming, throwing herself on the floor.  Turns out she had an allergy to red food dye.

      I would suggest keeping track of what she's been eating and when she "explodes" there may be a connection to what she has had to eat.  Not all food allergy reactions have to do with hives or some other physical sign of a reaction, sometimes the reaction is behavioral.

      Hope that helps!

    4. Druid Dude profile image59
      Druid Dudeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Don't give in. PERIOD.

    5. couturepopcafe profile image59
      couturepopcafeposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Absolutely agree with renagade.  Usually there is a serious chemical imbalance somewhere, could be nutritional, could be a brain neurotransmitter.  Read "The Edge Effect" by Dr. Eric Braverman.  In the meantime, lay off ALL processed foods, sugars, white flours, wheat products, read labels for 'spices' which are not identified as they could be MSG, check for vit. D deficiency.  Personality problems are almost always the result of food causing bad behaviors.

    6. Sarah Writes profile image60
      Sarah Writesposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I to have a little girl with a big personality, and let me tell you what a challenge! A good part of the time my daughter is funny, smart, and extremely outgoing. The other small part of her life she is indeed exploding. My husband and I have tried everything; we have taken things away, given things to her, talked to her, in and out of time out, EVERYTHING. But the tactic I use now after much trial and error is I tell her that she may have her fit, just not where I can hear her. Then I walk her to her room, were over her screaming I tell her she may come out after she finishes her fit. Sometimes she’s in her room for 30 min. But when she is finished she pops her head out and tells me she’s done and ready to come out.

  2. profile image0
    china manposted 12 years ago

    It sounds as if she is ready for marriage already smile

    I had a friend who had a child who appears to be like this, she just grew out of it eventually.  The parents kept their calm and largely ignored the behaviour as I remember.

    1. SomewayOuttaHere profile image60
      SomewayOuttaHereposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      lol...CM!  ...watcha mean ready for marriage?....mornin'...just sayin hi!....later....

  3. PaulaHenry1 profile image70
    PaulaHenry1posted 12 years ago

    I also had a friend who had this problem. She eventually brought her to counseling which led to medication. I dont believe so much in medicating youngsters but therapy might help to find the anger source....good luck to you

  4. Ivorwen profile image67
    Ivorwenposted 12 years ago

    My five year old is going through a phase like this.  The thing that I am finding most with him is that he feels that life lacks adventure.  He wants to do more.  To BE more. 

    Providing an outlet for his imagination and energy has been very helpful.  Also, even thought he doesn't like it, giving him more responsibility in the home has been helpful.  He needs to know that he is a needed part of the family, and insisting that he does certain jobs helps with that.

  5. TammyHammett profile image61
    TammyHammettposted 12 years ago

    It has been very trying, especially since I was a teacher.  It is hard to try not to control her, but obviously, that totally does not work. I have read several great books and I am trying to take what I can from each of them. I do notice that she does LOVE to help and the more we are connected, the less explosions we have. We have noticed that being tired or hungry or bored plays a large part in her explosions. It's a constant battle to stay ahead of her and trying to diffuse issues before they blow up. Right now we are trying to deal with her hurtful actions towards her siblings. Every day is a new day. I try to continuously remind myself of all the wonderful qualities she possesses. Some days are easier than others.

  6. 2uesday profile image68
    2uesdayposted 12 years ago

    Just a thought, it might be worth checking to see if she is being bullied at school. Sometimes things like that only come to light retrospectively, she may be angry about something outside the home, but venting it at home where she feels safer to do so.

  7. lrohner profile image68
    lrohnerposted 12 years ago

    I agree with jdavis in that (assuming there are no other issues causing the behavior), just ignoring the child is the right thing to do. Many children (and adults) just want/need more attention than others, even if it's negative attention. By ignoring the bad behavior and praising the good behavior, you are only giving them attention when it's earned and appropriate.

  8. Spacey Gracey profile image37
    Spacey Graceyposted 12 years ago

    Hey Tammy - I just wanted to let you know that what you describe matches me as a teenager exactly.

    I was always bruising for a fight. I had a little wobble off the rails for a while but was back on track by about 18.

    Mum and Dad didn't judge or even offer an opinion on what I was doing. They just waited for me to come back to them. We are so close now.

    I wish then someone had helped me recognize when that rage was building and find a more positive way of directing it.

    My son is just like me - he is 5 - and some days he will just keep finding naughty things to do so he can get angry or cry and get it out of his system.

    Sorry I dont really have any advice - just thought that sharing my experience might be helpful.

  9. waynet profile image69
    waynetposted 12 years ago

    Might be handy to demolish buildings!

    My daughter gets like this and I put her on the naughty step just like Supernanny suggests and it does work over time...being consistent does matter!

  10. Daniel Carter profile image65
    Daniel Carterposted 12 years ago

    In some cases, there is a biochemical imbalance that could be responsible for such behaviors. Sometimes nutrient deficiencies are to blame, sometimes amino acids are not balanced out right. But sometimes, the child is trying to figure out their boundaries in the world, and they are focused on ME, ME, ME. It's hard to know what it is exactly until you eliminate things one by one. But I do know that if consistent disciplining techniques don't show results after a few months, it's more likely to be biochemically related. If so, there is an organization which helps treat imbalances through natural means so that meds can be avoided. If interested, Google

  11. rebekahELLE profile image87
    rebekahELLEposted 12 years ago

    you probably already know that sometimes the middle child feels ignored, so they tend to retreat or act out.  it doesn't always work this way, but it can.
    she probably senses that you're frustrated with her and feels like this is how she is so it's how she should act. children will do whatever they think works to get their parents attention.
    as hard as it sounds, ignoring her when she is having a fit will help as long as she knows that you are ignoring her BEHAVIOR and not her. connect with her when she is not acting up, let her know you have no choice but to ignore her tantrums and she can have them with a pillow or a writing pad, but you won't respond until she speaks instead of explodes. watch her closely to see what triggers her behavior. is she tired, hungry, bored, ignored, troubled at school? kids feel their parents stress also if there is stress in the home.

    have you read the book, When Sophie Gets Angry? It's about a little girl who gets angry at her sister, it's really very good and kids love it. It was one of my most worn books at school.
    I also have a hub about dealing with angry children that may help. How To Help An Angry Child
    hope things get better for you and your daughter

  12. brandonakelly profile image60
    brandonakellyposted 12 years ago

    I'm not a parent by any means, but I have had an explosive brother all my life with a quick temper. If you're a Christian believer as my parents were, they lived by the motto, spare the rod and spoil the child. In other words, if your child acts out against your wishes and refuses to obey, you take them to their room and spank them. Leave them there to think about what they've done and that they have to apologize for whatever it is they were doing before they got the spanking. I can almost guarantee that if you're are hurting your child to a certain extent they will learn their lesson.. I am by no means meaning this in a cruel way. This is just a proven method I believe in up to a certain age.

  13. TammyHammett profile image61
    TammyHammettposted 12 years ago

    I have read The Explosive Child. It was the first book that sounded exactly like my daughter. I was so amazed at the similarities.
    There was a sense of relief to actually have a label for what we deal with at home. She shows absolutely no signs at school, she's been in therapy, and since she shows no signs at school, her doctor won't consider any blood tests or any medical reasons. But she is anxious about be embarrassed at school so she holds on so tight to keep herself under control. So when she gets home, it is like she can no longer keep the lid on. We are very consistant with disciple and consequences. Perhaps to much, cause she doesn't want to be controlled and so she
    bucks the authority tooth and nail. She actually resents us for disciplining her and creates an even bigger gap between us. But when I approach her, as if we want to help, she releases a lot of the explosiveness. I guess we will just work on staying connected with her.

  14. Mikeydoes profile image76
    Mikeydoesposted 12 years ago

    Yell back at her and give her a taste of her own medicine, and send her to a long time out. Make the time outs longer and longer if she keeps it up.

  15. profile image0
    WildIrisposted 12 years ago

    From you last response it sounds as if some aspect of going to school causes her stress. She keeps herself together all day long at school and breaks down at home because it is safer than breaking down at school. Would it be possible to give her some decompression time when she arrives home from school, giving her one-on-one attention talking about her day at school in a casual way and not a "what do you have to do for homework" way.

    I have a seven-year-old daughter who could be tagged with the explosive label. What I've found that works is to catch my daughter being kind, helpful, or working hard on anything. I am specific in my praise. I tell her hard she works or comment on her attention to detail. When things digress, I take the time to help her become aware of what she is doing--not easy with a seven-year-old. It is an on going project, and some days are better than others.

  16. SarahBeaumont profile image58
    SarahBeaumontposted 12 years ago

    I'm sorry if I sound like I'm a bit harsh here, but as children grow up their biological make-up tells them that they need to survive and create a niche for themselves in which they will be successful. As they gradually become more accomplished at gaining power over their surroundings, they will use anything in their toolbox to gain and maintain power, and that includes controlling adults and others who care about them. Their (misguided)system is programmed to recognise that power over their environment is advantageous, so in theory they are succeeding. However OUR job as parents and carers is to play a responsible role in socialisation and all other aspects of education, so that the child emerges as a responsible, socially mature and adept adult who can be emotionally and financially independent. So we need to TEACH that it's NOT OK to be explosive or antisocial, or rude. This needs to be done by rewarding excellence and subtly reminding them that poor behaviour will not be tolerated, and that there are consequences. Clearly the consequences should not be violent or harmful. Many parents and carers get the application of discipline wrong for a number of reasons. First of all they may have borne the brunt of poor or harsh discipline as children, and may have vowed not to be 'that type' of parent. To that I would state that making sure forcibly but not violently that poor behaviour us unacceptable is NOT an unloving thing to do - quite the opposite.
    Another major reason for parents failing to discipline wrongly is that one parent or party has their own lack of self esteem or guilt or issue which is not fully dealt with, and this can manifest itself in a feeling of ineptitude when dealing with explosive or difficult children. STOP NOW and consider that you are there in that child's life and YOU are responsible for showing them the right way to behave in order to get on in life. Find time to deal with your issues before they have a major effect on ANOTHER generation.
    Finally there may be inconsistency in the way that adults around the child deal with issues. It is important that all adults - parents, carers, and educators all give out the same messages. Without this approach the child will quickly learn that the way to gain power is to play one adult off against another. Never underestimate the power of a child - they are AMAZING!
    I love my kids, and I love the 300 kids I teach high school science to. GOOD LUCK with yours!

    1. rebekahELLE profile image87
      rebekahELLEposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      very wise words.

  17. cobrien profile image62
    cobrienposted 12 years ago

    One of my twins was a very explosive child and difficult from birth. She would have screaming fits and tantrums that would last for hours. She was diagnosed with ADHD and other such nonsense. It turned out that she inherited my Bipolar Disorder. My 18 year old dependent son is autistic and was recently diagnosed with Schizophrenia. He exploded on me twice yesterday. He lost his IPOD, DVD player, his PS2, his cell phone and the front tire of his bicycle. He must earn them back with good behavior.
    Explosive behavior is caused by SOMETHING, even if it isn't a chemical imbalance. Is your child being abused? Bullied at school? If your child naturally angers easily, maybe learning some coping skills and providing outlets is in order.
    Corporal punishment is meant to keep you in control, when children should be learning self control. Of course your child is angry. How would you feel if the person who is meant to protect you and guide you hits you instead?

  18. TPSicotte profile image80
    TPSicotteposted 12 years ago

    I will write a hub about this some day. I have worked with a lot of explosive kids. It's always good to remain calm. Some parents think the child has no control but there are a few things that will stop them right in their tracks. When kids get into that state it is hard to interrupt it, the more we try to stop them the worse it gets. You can try pacing, which is basically mimicking her behavior and showing her what she looks like (do not do this sarcastically!). When children get feedback of how they look and sound it usually breaks their state. She may ask you to stop or tell you not to make fun of her. Let her know your not making fun of her just showing her how it looks. You can tell her you are trying to understand how she feels by doing the same things she is doing.

    Let her know you are just wondering what it feels like to practice being out of control. That is another thing that can be done. Ask them what they are practicing. When they do try to calm themselves (self-sooth) praise them for practicing getting back in control. Kids who explode are trying to regain power because they feel powerless in the moment. Often they are perfectionists, so we need to be aware of that in ourselves. Do we model perfectionism? Because it is a power issue, she needs to be given limited choices in many other areas of her life: clothing choices-these pants or those ones, food choices-this cereal or this one, etc etc. Good luck. She sounds like a real spirited child. You have to love that.

  19. Beth100 profile image72
    Beth100posted 12 years ago

    (my own opinion and experiences follow....)

    Many children do not develop the skills to communicate what they are feeling.  This may happen for many different reasons.  Some children express their feelings through outbursts of emotions because they cannot contain their emotions.  How they express it varies. 

    Factors that affect emotional behavior can include, but not be exclusive are: 

    1.  Routine -- a lack of routine does not provide stability for the child.  A change of routine, such as beginning school, is like turning their world upside down.  Try to instill a new routine, one that is reliable and consistent.  If the child knows what to expect and when, it will remove some of the stress he is feeling;

    2.  Stress -- a new environment, new people, new friends, new routine, new home, new additions to the family, seeing you less, spending less quality time with people he loves are all examples of stress for a child.  Even a change in diet or clothing can stress some children.  The best way to alleviate the stress is to find the source(s) and find a solution to resolve the stressors.  It's simple.  Make a list of things that have changed in his life.  Some of these will be stressors;

    3.  Tiredness -- not only children, but adults, become beligerent, grumpy and angry when tired.  The solution - a 30 minute nap after school, earlier bedtime, a relaxing bath, quiet time to relax are some solutions;

    4.  Hunger -- again, children are like adults.  When they become hunger but cannot explain that they are hunger, the side effects are anger, grumpiness, tiredness, snappiness and uncooperativeness.  Solutions include healthy snacks, earlier meal times, larger portions, small meals spread through out the day (known as grazing);

    5.  Chemical imbalance -- see your physician if you think that this might be a possibility;

    6.  Bullying -- in a new enviornment such as kindergarten, bullying does occur.  It can happen through physical hitting, emotional (teasing, segregation, taunting, ignoring) and verbal (name calling, nick name that is disrespectful).  Bullying can occur within the classroom, the playground, on the bus or anywhere inbetween.  Ensuring that your child feels safe to discuss this is the only way to verify bullying, even if there is visible signs of abuse.  If you suspect that this is happening, speak with the teacher and request that she watches more closely.  In general, schools take bullying seriously;

    7.  Attention Getting -- it's the simple if I scream loud enough, I will get attention or what ever I want.  Only you can be the judge of this one as none of us are there to witness it.  If it is for attention, then ignoring may be the best solution.  Don't provide an audience.  No audience, no performance.  However, don't withold love or attention during positive times.  Reinforce your love by showering him with attention when he is behaving as expected.  Positive reinforcement goes a longer way than negative reinforcement (corporal punishment, taking items away, time outs);  and

    8.  Boredom -- TV, video games, movies -- these are not stimulating activities for children in this age group.  Physical activity is the best way to alleviate boredom.  Crafts, reading, drawing, doodling, cooking, learning to play a musical instrument, playing imaginary games -- these are the activities that children thrive on.  They need the opportunities, time and a playmate to exercise their creative juices.  Physical exercise does wonders -- it tires them out, allows them to destress, allows them the opportunity to take their frustrations out on the ball or jump in the trampoline until they feel some release; 

    You may ask me how I know this.  I am raising 5 children of my own plus I have raised 3 into adulthood, raised 3 adopted children who have now returned to their homes and have cared for many other children that are not my own biologically.  I've learned from experience, reading, talking with others and observing other children. 

    There is a book called The Five Languages of Love for Children.  It's a wonderful book and it also applies to adults, teens, seniors.... everyone. 

    Just remember, treat the root of the problem, not the symptoms.  Healing the problem will eliminate the symptoms.  The outbursts are symptoms of (a) problem(s).  Discover these, resolve them and you will both be better off and happier.

    Oh, remember that children learn from observation.  They watch everything their parents do and mimic each action/word but they apply these in the "wrong" contexts.  By staying calm, even and ensuring that he feels that you are "safe" is the best way to handle him.  Losing your temper, becoming angry and having outbursts of your own will only reinforce that this is proper behavior.  (I am NOT saying that this is what you are doing, so please, do not take offense.)

    Best wishes!

  20. CARIBQUEEN profile image66
    CARIBQUEENposted 11 years ago

    The fact that the child is a middle child explains a lot. Middle children sometimes feel loveless, if even though that may not be the case.  They try hard for attention as they feel left out. I cannot say ignore the behaviour because it can get worse. I can say that you explain to the child that she is loved as much as the other children in the family. Let her feel special by giving her something different from the rest. Call her to assist you in the home, as though she is the most important. Take her shopping alone with you sometimes. I know that you parents are doing your utmost best, but you have to keep trying. Children are different - you won't find two that are alike. Personalities differ. Keep talking to her, something will stick at some point in time and you will see gradual changes as time goes by. DON'T GIVE UP!


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