We recently read Ross W. Greene's important book, The Explosive Child: Understanding and Helping Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children
(also available in Hebrew
He has a possibly controversial approach to dealing with a category he formed, the "chronically inflexible" child, prone to meltdowns and what he calls "vapor lock" (when rational thought gets blocked). His main thesis is that we should be looking for new explanations for why this child acts this way, and he puts a large burden on the parent and teacher to develop strategies that will allow the child to succeed.
For example, chronically frustrated children are often viewed as manipulative, but, Greene suggests, manipulation requires a lot of conniving forethought and planning -- a "skill" such children are usually not capable of, and the reason they often get into frustrating positions to begin with. Perhaps you know this from trying to get a kid to do his homework?! By re-focusing our understanding of the root cause, he points us in the direction of better, more effective solutions. "Children do well if they can" is the book's motto. The question is how adults can help them do well.
The book is clearly geared for parents, but chapter 12 focuses on the school. Even if the child is not having meltdowns in class (because of fear of embarrassment, medication, etc.) that doesn't mean the teacher is doing everything necessary to allievate "steam" which will blow off the moment the kid gets home. (Tip: Greene is not
a big fan of homework -- see also here
). Good news though: We're told by Dr. Greene that he just completed the manuscript of a companion volume on the explosive child in the school. We'll keep that on our list of books to read when it's published sometime next year.