Explosive Child



“ I need help with my 12 year-old son and I need help growing my business. Can you help me with both of these issues?” a client asks me several weeks ago.

Yes. This is the perfect marriage of my two fields of work: family advocacy and business consulting. How lucky am I that I get to traverse both in every client meeting?

In this situation, her son is not listening to any instructions or following any direction. She has been reading the book, Explosive Child, by Ross W. Greene. It’s a really good piece of work and luckily, I have read it.

We talk about his 3 plans: A, B and C where basically A&C are total non-acceptance and total acceptance and plan B needs to be negotiated. I am asked to breakdown Plan B and give her ideas for areas of negotiation with her son.

It has been so helpful, she asked that I share this with our community.


There are situations that are not negotiable and ones that are no big deal. These are indicated in the two side columns.  The ones in the middle, however, are those that need to be defined, negotiated and agreed.

Not Negotiable Time/Situation Matters Non Issues
Places/Events Chores Weekends
    School    Homework Play
    Family Dinner    Meals: Making lunch Friends (as of now)
   Appointments    Meals: Eating breakfast After school activities
    Church Technology Vacations
    Holidays w/ family    Xbox – amount of time/games Holidays – non family
   Video games – online Outfits – out of school
   TV – amount of time/programs Personal hygiene – out of school
   Computer – where/what/time Summer
   Phone – amount of time/timing/calls/texting Camps
   Social Media Family fun time
Personal Responsibilities Time spent in the bathroom (mostly for girls)
    Bedtime: school nights
    Personal hygiene


Overall Steps:

  1. Talk w/ spouse to get agreement on items, family meeting agenda & rules, expectations, and parameters.
  2. Tee up the issue w/ son or daughter alone:
    1. Talk about how things are not working as well as they should.
    2. Talk about your fault in the situation.
    3. Talk about how it more than 1 to have an issue.
    4. Explain how you want things to be.
    5. Explain his/her responsibilities as part of a family.
    6. Talk about respect and attitude.
    7. Tell him/her you are going to hold a family meeting.
  3. Conduct family meeting.
  4. Make updates to table.
  5. Display prominently.
  6. Follow through.
  7. Make adjustments as appropriate.

Determine Expectations & Parameters:

  • Chores:
    • List of chores
    • Timing of chores
    • Allowance with chores?
    • Earn privileges with chores?
    • Punitive aspect without chores?
    • Chart for chores to check off as completed?
  • Technology:
    • Earning technology time?
    • Losing technology access/time?
    • Weekday versus weekend?
    • Always ask first?
    • Anything off limits?
    • Set the oven timer for time limits.
    • Discuss your ability to check out phone, social media, etc.
    • Talk about setting parental controls on computer, TV, etc.
  • Personal Responsibilities:
    • Define responsibilities
    • Explain reasons
    • Determine # times per week
    • Outline time/effort per responsibility

Family Meeting Agenda & Rules:


Attendees: All Family Members or Parents and Child

Duration: 1.5 – 2 hours

(Break this down into several meetings if necessary)

  1. Category explanation
  2. Items per category discussion
  3. Middle column negotiation
  4. 15 minute break, if necessary
  5. Expectation and parameter determination
  6. Family fun time list/calendar

Meeting Rules:

  • Be respectful
  • One person speaks at a time
  • Compromise
  • Take notes
  • Get agreement
  • Post chart

Follow through, follow through, follow through.

Family Fun Time:

  • Make list
  • Prioritize
  • Get additional information as necessary
  • Schedule
  • Have fun

Children need boundaries and rules, yet they do not want to be told repeatedly about them by their parents. If they have buy-in to those areas that need negotiation, they are much more apt to follow the rules and respect the boundaries.

Good luck!