An Explosive Child In The Family

Having an explosive child is not desirable nor easy to deal with, yet each child has their own particular needs of attention from parents. Parents need to focus their attention on their children’s individual needs, in addition to their own personal difficulties.

In order to be able to help each child, good communication within the family is extremely important. When the family’s communication patterns are not appropriately adjusted to each situation, they can actually lead to more explosive reactions from the family member that needs to learn the skills to be flexible and deal appropriately with frustration.

It is fairly common in families to have siblings aiming their hostilities and fierce acts towards each other. When one of the siblings is explosive, such acts are more intense and traumatizing to the other sibling(s); and when they are repeated over time, they have the characteristics of bullying (see Bullying articles). This is a very undesirable situation within a family. Parents need to intervene, and they must focus their attention on their children differently, according to what each child needs.

As parents focus their attention on each child according to their particular priorities and needs, siblings complain about not being treated equal, they feel parents are not fair because their attention and expectations from each sibling are different.

More-so, if one of the siblings happens to be explosive, parents need to pay more attention and use a larger amount of time and effort focusing on helping their explosive child. When this happens, it is always helpful to explain to the non-explosive siblings the reasons why their explosive sibling acts that way (he or she needs to learn flexibility and coping with frustration skills), why it is so difficult to change, and how they can help prevent their sibling’s explosions and have a nicer home atmosphere.
This of course doesn’t change the fact that the parents’ efforts are greatly directed towards the explosive sibling, having inequality in parents’ attention towards their children, and having children complain about it. It is a reality, so don’t try to make your explosive child be like the others, just be aware that that is how things are.

Parents have different expectations for each child, as they naturally adjust them to their children’s needs: one may need help with math, while another may need help with flexibility, yet another might need help with friends…each child has to face different challenges and parents should have different expectations according to such challenges

Remember, being fair is different from being equal, parents cannot be equal, but they can and should be fair.

Helping Your Child Deal With Anger And Frustration

Why children need to learn to deal with frustration and anger?

We all get frustrated, upset and angry some times. These are normal emotions.

Frustration and anger are healthy feelings that alert us to problems. These feelings give us energy to solve the problems we face, and although it is not something we enjoy, it is useful if we know how to recognize these emotions, use them and control them to solve our problems.

We can all learn to deal the right way with our emotions of frustration and anger and live happier lives. This relies on understanding and gaining control over our thoughts and learning constructive behavioral skills. It also relies on flexibility and dealing with frustration and things that are not going as we want them.

Children who know how to deal with their frustrations and anger are usually happier children.

Children can learn to recognize how they are feeling, develop communication strategies to express their thoughts and desires, and develop skills at problem solving. These children are better liked by peers, more successful academically, easier to live with, and people around them are happier too.

Holding Your Child Accountable For His Or Her Actions

Talking about accountability? If you want to hold your child accountable for their actions, the first and most important requirement for it is your child should be in control of such actions, as well as having the necessary information and skills to take thoughtful decisions.

If your child’s motivation to control their actions consists of the consequences you impose, instead of his or her own desire to do well, it is likely your child is not figuring out nor learning the skills he or she needs to control his or her anger reactions.

It is extremely likely that your child knows you dislike and disapprove his or her anger-explosions; and it is also likely that she or he dislikes them too, therefore there is no need to keep on giving that disapproving message to your child through punishments. Punishment, as discussed in Punishment and Reward Program: Does it Really Work? Does not help your child get the skills he or she needs, on the contrary, it can increase the frequency of his or her anger-explosions!

When is your child actually taking responsibility and control over his or her actions? When your child is controlling his or her actions, considering your concerns, figuring out solutions with or without you, and you notice he or she is exploding less.

Punishment And Reward: Does It Really Work?

Children want to do well, they are willing to do the right thing, yet sometimes they need to learn some skills they don’t have to do well. When a child is explosive, they are not choosing to be explosive, that is not the way they want to have your attention, and they are not trying to manipulate you with such a behavior. An explosive child does not like being explosive.

Does a reward and punishment program help the child with his or her anger explosions? Absolutely NOT!!!

That is because these programs do not help the child learn and develop the necessary skills to cope with frustration and be flexible. These programs actually make the child’s frustration worse since they do not know how to handle the situation that triggers these undesired explosive reactions.

When they lack the skills they need to cope with those situations, it is likely they will have the undesired explosion; and with the reward-and-punishment program they get even more frustrated as they will not get the desired reward plus they are punished from something (exploding) they didn’t even want to do.

In addition, these reward-and-punishment programs make the adults be more inflexible, just the opposite example for the child who needs to learn to be more flexible!

The increased frustration from this reward-and-punishment program plus the opposite example of inflexibility by the adults provoke more explosions and end up worsening the relationship between the adults and the child.

Let’s take a look on a typical situation with a reward-and punishment program intended to help a boy deal with explosions:

Let’s imagine a boy who explodes when frustrated, and something happens that makes this boy frustrated… His mother perceives the frustration in the boy, so she reminds him of the consequences in the reward-and-punishment program, in this case let’s say he earns points, when he accumulates 10 he can exchange them to be taken to the movies. The boy obviously wants to go to the movies but knows he doesn’t know how to control himself when frustrated, so he gets more frustrated, he feels uneasy, his anger starts to get to his whole body, his thinking mind becomes increasingly unavailable, and the control over his words and actions is almost completely lost: he has an explosion… The mother believes the boy is trying to have her give in to the boy’s desires and starts getting angry herself… the boy starts screaming… the mother gets even more angry and wants to set up things right by punishing the boy… The boy, already out of control, resists the punishment and the mother gets even angrier and enforces the punishment in stronger way, forcing the boy in a time-out.
Once time has passed, and the boy starts to calm down and regain control over himself, his thinking mind becomes available and regrets what happened.

The boy did not plan to explode, he didn’t have any premeditated purpose for exploding, he did not want to not-comply with his mother’s request of not exploding, he did not want to defy his mother, he did not plan to explode with a specific purpose in mind: he simply did not want to explode. He just did not have the skills to cope with frustration, he does not know how to be flexible in those situations.

Helping Your Child Deal With Anger And Frustration

Do you think your child is manipulating you through explosive  behaviors?

In most cases, NO.

In order for a child to be effectively manipulative, they must have the skills required to do so. These skills involve thinking and considering what is necessary to make something happen in the future; therefore good planning, organization, together with impulse control are necessary. Most explosive children are weak in these skills, as are children with ADHD who are often explosive too.

Explosive children need to strengthen those skills as well as the skills to deal with frustration and anger, like flexibility. Sleep’n Sync has amazing programs that can help the child who has difficulties dealing with frustration and anger, and the child who has explosive behaviors: i.e., Dealing With Anger I and II programs.

If you believe your child is being manipulative, he or she is not a good manipulator. Why? Because effective manipulation takes place when you don’t even notice you are being manipulated.
Holding your child accountable?

If you want to hold your child accountable for their actions, the first and most important requirement for it is your child should be in control of such actions, as well as having the necessary information and skills to take thoughtful decisions.

If your child’s motivation to control their actions consists of the consequences you impose, instead of his or her own desire to do well, it is likely your child is not figuring out nor learning the skills he or she needs to control his or her anger reactions.

It is extremely likely that your child knows you dislike and disapprove his or her anger-explosions; and it is also likely that she or he dislikes them too, therefore there is no need to keep on giving that disapproving message to your child through punishments. Punishment, as we discussed earlier (on previous posts) does not help your child get the skills he or she needs, on the contrary, it can increase the frequency of his or her anger-explosions!

When is your child actually taking responsibility and control over his or her actions?

When your child is controlling his or her actions, considering your concerns, figuring out solutions with or without you, and you notice he or she is exploding less.