Programs for Education

By Susan Ibarra 

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Inflexible Explosive Children



Everyone has seen it, a child that explodes when they are told to do something or when things don’t go as planned.  These children have been seen losing complete control.  They can become verbally and physically aggressive.  Are these children spoiled, stubborn or manipulative? NO! Those labels suggest that such children manipulate others and intentionally plan difficult behavior.  

Popular reward/punishment approaches are used to try and teach and motivate them to behave more appropriately, but for many children, the standard methods don’t work.  These children are easily frustrated and without intention, extremely inflexible.  They can become overwhelmed or stuck on seemingly simple requests, benign issues and sudden changes in plans.  They may be anxious, moody, irritable and volatile.

Difficulty Explaining

Quite often these children cannot explain what is frustrating them.  Regardless of how old they are, they may have trouble thinking through potential solutions to problems.  Their sensory systems may be hyper sensitive.  They may be clinically diagnosed with a variety of disorders including Oppositional-Defiant Disorder, ADHD, Tourette’s Syndrome, Depression and Bipolar Disorder.

For all those involved, the family may be in a perpetual state of crisis.  Parents and family members feel frustrated, overwhelmed, guilt-ridden, exhausted and hopeless.  In some instances the ferocity of an outburst can be frightening.  Often, the realizations that these children are somehow different, is frustrating as well as painful.  There is no “test” to give these kids that can medically diagnose this problem as it is pervasively part of the child’s makeup.  There is no magic wand to make it go away.  Spanking, withholding privileges, time-out and other punishments not only don’t work, but it can make the situation worse!  But there is hope . . . so long as the parents, family members, relatives, teachers, etc. of these children realize this:  

If your child could do better, he/she would 

Inflexible and/or explosive children require different disciplinary practices than do other children.  With education, qualified supports and counseling in place, living with, and managing defiant and oppositional behaviors can help you to:

• Learn strategies to help diffuse child and adolescent meltdowns
• Find out how to set and handle limits

• Become an enlightened parent as you find out how to manage family

chaos, personal feelings of guilt, anger and frustration and so much more.


Irv Finkelstein, LCSW & Psychotherapist has presented this and other topics to parents, teachers and caregivers through Programs for Education sponsored by The CHILD Organization.  Professional development hours are also available for this program.

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