8 Casualties of Parenting an Explosive Child That No One Tells You About

(Inside: When you are parenting an explosive child, there are casualties from each and every explosion whether you can see them with your eyes or not.)

One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand, four… Breathe. Just breathe. He doesn’t mean what he says. He’s not trying to hurt you.

Five-one thousand. Six. Sigh… You’ve got this.  Stay calm.

Seven-one thousand. Eight. He loves you. He needs you.

Nine-one thousand. BOOM!

When dust finally settles, you appear from the wreckage. You dust yourself off. You check your battle wounds. A kick to the shin. A punch to the gut. A bite to the arm. Not bad. Those will heal.

You check him. Okay. He’s breathing now. He’s not screaming. In fact, he’s asking for hugs. Maybe, the coast is clear? Maybe you can start the repair?

The Unexpected Casualties of Parenting an Explosive Child
*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see disclosure for details.

Parenting an explosive child is like living in a battle field. The only difference is that there is no combat training. No assault preparation. No heavy artillery to back you up.

You are all alone when the time hits. With one mission… make sure everyone comes out on the other side safe.

All the hours you put into scouring the internet for calm down tools, and emotional regulation strategies. All the sleepless nights reading up on your explosive child and learning about his fight or flight response. All the money you’ve spent on countless hours of lessons and therapy sessions… none of it is there when it really matters. None of it is there when you son explodes.

There’s one thing for sure. There are casualties from each and every explosion whether you can see them with your eyes or not.

In fact, I’ve come to learn that no one talks about or wants to admit these casualties because they are quite frightening.

After the battle I just fought tonight, I want to let the world know about what it really means to parent an explosive child.

But more than anything… I want you to know you are not alone if you find yourself in the battlefields, because honestly… it’s one of the scariest places a parent can find themselves.

The Unspoken Casualties of Parenting an Explosive Child

8 Casualties of Parenting an Explosive Child That No One Tells You About

Casualty #1 : Your Relationship with Your Child 

You can remember the day you brought him home from the hospital. He was so small. So breathtakingly beautiful. All he wanted was you and all you wanted was him.

Now, years later, you find yourself having to sneak yourself into his room when he is asleep to get that same caress and snuggle.

You know that with each and every battle you are slowly slipping further and further away from that small child that once snuggled to your breast.

Casualty #2: Your Relationship with Yourself

You used to go to the gym. You had a pretty cute figure if you ask yourself. Now, now you can barely muster a shower.

By the time you have put out all the fires, repaired all the wounds, and cleaned up the mess, you simply sink into the couch or bed and get ready to do it all again the next day.

Casualty #3: Your Relationship with Your Spouse or Partner

Even the best marriage or relationship on Earth cannot withstand constant firing at the village gates.

Without fail, one of you will get tired and weary before the other. One of you will want nothing more than to protect the family.

The date nights turn to therapy nights, and the late night cuddles turn to late night tears.

Casualty # 4: Your Relationships with Your Other Children

When you pictured your family, you never imagined your family would create memories by learning crisis control.

You never thought you would have to head into the bunkers or worse, send them into the bunkers alone so you could fight the battle alone.

You dream of the day you can give each child the same undivided attention, yet, you know this might never be possible.

Casualty #5: Your Friendships

Your friendships suddenly begin to fall into two categories. Those that try to understand with all their might and those that slowly drift away because you have no time to check in and give them the attention they deserve.

You find yourself crossing your fingers in hopes that your next conversation doesn’t begin with “How are things.” Because, honestly, you hate lying, but you know they don’t really want to hear what its really like.

Casualty #6: The Ideas You Once Had of “Normal”

I know. Everyone has their own “normal.” However, this is different.

You yearn for the day, the week, the year, you can actually predict what your “normal” will look like.

You mourn the family picture you thought you would create and you shed tears over the memories you see others making.

Casualty #7: The Resemblance of the Parent You Thought You Would Be

You’ve read the books. You’ve done the research. You knew exactly what type of parent you wanted to be. And this… this, is nowhere near what you pictured.

Casualty #8: Your Ability to See Yourself as a Capable Strong Parent

Battle after battle, decision after decision, it starts to wear on you. Well meaning friends tell you that you are an amazing parent and doing the best you can. But you don’t feel anything like a good parent. You don’t feel strong. You don’t feel capable.

remembering why the battles are worth fighting with an explosive child

At the end of the day, each and every casualty is worth it. After you slump outside the bedroom door and lay your head against his door, you close your eyes and remember back to that first night.

His skin, his smell, his undeniable love for you from first sight. That. That is what prepares you for the next battle and keeps you strong. That is what pushes you into the battlefield once again. Your baby needs you.

Remember, you are not alone in this fight. You are not going to battle without an army behind you. You might have never met your army, you might not even know they exist, but I promise you… you are not alone!

I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do want to be that army for you… But I will be right there with you in the battle.

Because I know just how overwhelming your life can feel, I have something just for you that I’m just bursting at the brim to share.

overcome sensory issues

Right now, download your FREE Handle Any Sensory Challenge posters so you can get a deeper understanding of sensory and start implementing some sensory activities and routines with your family!

Join 10,000+ parents for this Masterclass: 5 Little-Known Mistakes Parents Make When Handling Meltdowns (and what to do instead)

Here’s what you’ll discover:
➡️  5 Myths for handling meltdowns -- See why common advice like “be consistent,” “set firm boundaries,” “use consequences,” and “connect more” can make the meltdowns worse -- and what to do instead
➡️  How to eliminate meltdowns, tantrums, and outbursts using the YOU-CUE (you’ll raise a happy, confident child with the skills to self-regulate and solve problems)
➡️  How to create a calm, peaceful home where everyone enjoys being together using the Magic Reset Button (if you’ve tried “connecting more” yet your family still can’t stand being around each other, you’ll love this)

Screen Shot 2020-04-03 at 6.19.51 PM

What you learn is proven over 8 years with 3,000+ parents -- including those whose kids have ADHD, ASD, ODD, SPD, and every other label under the sun.

30 thoughts on “8 Casualties of Parenting an Explosive Child That No One Tells You About”

  1. I’m sitting in the waiting room of the eye doctor trying to not let the floodgates open. Great post as always. Sorry for your rough day but thank you for sharing.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you so much for your continued support!

  2. Wow, this really resonates with me. Currently really struggling with my almost-4yo and his huge anger episodes. I can identify with almost every single point you’ve made…Thank you.

  3. I feel like you describe our home so often in your writings, but this one takes the cake. Seriously, it’s not the moment of battle that leaves me the most exhausted or the most anxious and upset, it’s the moments afterward when I question my ability as a mother, as a person, to handle days like the ones you’ve described. Thank you so much for sharing. It’s so encouraging.:)

  4. Thank you for this raw and honest look into life with an explosive child.
    It’s so hard to remember that when they are in that zone they don’t really know what they are doing. They themselves are scared at the end of it, and they need you.
    Hang in there, momma.

    Sharing this because I know there are others that need to read this.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you so much for all your support. You are so right. It is scary on both ends.

  5. Suzanne

    I am so glad I found your blog. It makes me feel so much less lonely. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to share.

  6. Mary B

    This just brought tears to my eyes. I can relate to every word. Thank you so much for writing it. I’m going to check out your FB group now.

  7. I know that there are so many others that will feel this way. You’re right about forming an army – we have one called the PDA army ? This life is tough, but there are still huge rewards to be had x

  8. Tiffany

    I thought i was the only one, i thought i was doing everything wrong, i thought i didnt have enough strength. I spent the nights blaming myself for all my mistakes; raising my voice, not hugging my little cherub enough. I didnt understand how one minute this child could love me like im there whole world and the next wanting to hurt me with all her little might. I was told maybe its adhd, autism, you should get her checked?? There was no excuse, no reason. Things get better… some days we just concentrate on how to breathe and other days our bond is so strong saying goodnight is hard just because we will miss eachother. This article made me realise my thoughts and feelings are okay… and so is my child. Thankyou.

  9. Anna

    Gosh, your piece really resonates with me too. Thank you for trusting us with your story. My daughter isn’t physically aggressive towards me, but expresses her anxiety very explosively by being very angry verbally, and can be quite wild – she reminds me of a snarling Tasmanian devil at times! Do you think your newsletter or Facebook group would be the right place for me, given the absence of physical aggression?

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      If you need support than I would suggest the group for sure!

  10. Wow – so much the same at times to my girl – she isn’t as physical but the arguing – oh the almighty arguing – she is only six! We are going through a sweetish spot right now, but the eggshells are strategically placed.

  11. Becky

    I have an extremely difficult, explosive child. He is almost 6 now. It is a struggle every day.

    Let’s also add Casualty #8= your bank account. Therapy for little kids is hard to find and adds up fast, even with good insurance. While our friends go on cruises, our spare money bucket is spent on taking a difficult child to therapy. Stuff gets broken in and out of the house. Normal things wear out faster when you have an extreme kid- shoes, pants, furniture. . . and on and on. You can’t just hire any teenage sitter. etc. . . it’s very expensive.

    Also, I don’t agree with #3. Difficult, explosive kids can’t take the blame for undermining a strong marriage. I agree it is very trying to focus, work together, and always make a plan to be on the same page about behavior and discipline for children, but to portray a child as the one firing proverbial bullets at your marital relationship is a little extreme.

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Thank you for Casualty #8. So true. Remember, none of this is blame towards the child at all. However, these are the fallouts of having a child and loving an explosive child. And I stand by the fact that it can take a VERY STRONG marriage and tear it apart.

    2. I wish I agreed with you. My husband and I had a great relationship before our autistic child was born. We still love each other, but we have very little enjoyable time together due to time constraints and exhaustion that come from parenting 4 kids including one with autism. We can’t do things together as a family and can’t afford reliable, trained babysitters. Family and friends can’t physically manage him. Nor can siblings. His full-time care falls squarely on us as his parents (mostly me as mom since my husband works), so I have him all day every day. No…he can’t even go to school. The stress and emotional toll is probably unimaginable to someone who doesn’t live like we do, so I see why you don’t understand. Just trust me. #3 is real.

      1. Amykate

        You are not alone. It DOES Put a huge toll on the marriage especially when there’s no common ground or agreement of discipline as in my case. It’s more exhausting when your spouse is not a team player. It is a REAL struggle. I currently have no idea how to work and deal with home life.

  12. Geez your posts have hit hard before but this one takes the cake… I have tried to explain how it feels inside for years, & so many other pieces you’ve so creatively expressed here..7 years of reading, researching, therapy, etc & you said it right: No ones there when those sessions are over. I have never found the words.thank you. Thank you for being one of the ppl in my army ?

    1. Lemon Lime Adventures

      Hugs to you mama!

  13. Myranda

    For those of you fully entrenched in the war right now, I am living proof that it gets better. My explosive kiddo is now 17, and I fully believe that our previous (daily!) battles have created a bond between us that is unshakable today. No one can ever quite understand exactly how painful, how humbling, how heart wrenching, how defeating it is to live with an explosive child. The days that are so raw, you question everything about yourself and your life. Being told you should be tougher on your kiddo for their bad attitude. Knowing that all the Love & Logic classes in the world can’t stop your tears at night as you wonder why the hell you were chosen to be a tiny human’s verbal (and sometimes literal) punching bag. Yet one day, it gets better. Then a whole week goes by with no episodes. Then a month. And before you think it’s ever going to possible again – there is hope. I promise you.

  14. Lore

    I have a 5yr old with autism. The bruises and cuts are never the problems, it’s that you end up mentally drained out. My hubby and I work opposite work hours, so that one of us can always be with our son. We have an older son who gets caught in the cross fire a lot. No matter how many times we ask him to go to another room, he tries to help us with his little brother. I hate that he feels the need to help us. And sometimes it makes it harder to handle the situation.

  15. Cathy

    Wow. Wow. Wow. Wish I knew about this years ago. Our child is transgender and also has Aspergers. Since she came out to us and when she is on her meds, the outbursts are much less. Although there has been no physical stuff, the verbal things she says can hurt just as much as a punch. I have just asked to join your Facebook group. Thank you SO much for writing this.

  16. holly

    I just found your blog today via pinterest and am sobbing at work. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done and I feel so alone. Thank you for your transparency. I look forward to looing at more posts.

  17. Holly G

    I just found your blog today via pinterest and am sobbing at work. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done and I feel so alone. Thank you for your transparency. I look forward to looing at more posts.

  18. Pingback: 3 Powerful Words to Use When Your Child Says "I Hate You"

  19. Nora White

    I feel this, we have definitely traversed all these challenges. My boy is 15 and now and huge, thankfully more in control of his anger, but now it’s the depression and shame from all that anger has paralyzed him. Every day he is climbing out of that hole and the victories are tiny things others would view as failures if I shared them. We will persevere and hopefully have a great story to tell someday of recovery.

  20. Amanda

    The worst thing for me is how alone I’ve felt and how everyone around me has misunderstood my son. He has always been the only one to a meltdown, be kicked out of daycare, preschool, Kindergarten, etc. Even other parents who have kids with sensory issues have told me that their kids have never been that bad and that I should have gotten a diagnosis and therapy sooner (he was falsely diagnosed with ADHD and ODD initially). It feels so good to see that their are other kids and parents going through the same things we have. Thank you for letting me know that my son and I are not alone.

    1. Amanda

      I can tell how flustered I am after a school zoom meltdown with all the errors in my post. 😂

  21. Ashley Javinett Littlesun

    My son went inpatient for his outburst and making threats about wanting to kill me. I don’t think he’d ever really try to do it, but it killed my heart to hear this. I do so much for him and always have and love him and his brothers with all my heart. Now that he has been inside a facility he is finally on mood stabilizers, and the difference has been huge. He can say he loves me again, and looks at me like he genuinely means it. Before, he was telling me that he did not like me or a single thing about me.

    He’s nine. Today during our visit, he said, “Mom, I know you love me because you got me help. You didn’t just leave me alone to figure this out like my dad does and then walks away to let me cool down. You made sure to do your best to calm me down and to get me the help I needed to help myself calm down as I grow, doing this much shows you love me most. You’ve been the only person to try this hard.”….This melted my heart, and amazed me I didn’t have to wait until his adulthood to hear this realization. I can only hope and pray you and your children do get all the help that helps whether it’s medicine or therapy or both. I’m sure this is life long challenging but one hour at a time.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Scroll to Top