Creative Child

The Implosive Child and Four Principles to Use

by Rebecca Eanes

In his book The Explosive Child, Dr. Ross Green describes two particular types of children – explosive and implosive. Explosive children blow up easily. They are intolerant of frustration and transitions and quickly become aggressive and/or defiant.

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Implosive children are the opposite of explosive. Rather than act out their feelings with defiant, poor behavior, they become anxious, withdrawn, sad, or fearful. They are often very hard on themselves, setting standards that are too high and being very self-critical. These children are often perfectionists and don’t handle failure well. Unfortunately, they often are easy targets for bullying and rejection.

In Emotion Coaching by The Gottman Institute, four principles are given to use with implosive children. (Explosive children are also addressed in this program, and the principles are similar for both.)

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Here are the four principles as outlined in Emotion Coaching: The Heart of Parenting:

1. Ask “what” questions, not “why” questions.

Why questions typically cause people to become defensive because we receive them as criticism. This usually either shuts down communication or escalates it into a very negative place. Asking “why are you such a worry wart?” or “why can’t you just be more positive?” makes children feel more like there is something wrong with them than with their behavior.

Instead, ask questions like “What do you need right now?” or “What is your worst case scenario and how would that play out?” This will give your child an opportunity to voice fears.

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