I was extremely lucky recently to have been approached by psychologist and behavioural expert Peter Black: Author of ‘Cool That Volcano’. In his amazing book he talks about how we as parents can work together with our children to learn to calm those bubbling emotions before they erupt into a volcano of white hot lava. I will be reviewing his book fully very soon, but for now Peter explains his well practised theory in this guest post. So without further ado and with thanks to Peter… Enjoy!
Children and Emotions
Children are like volcanos. Well, we all are really, but at the moment, we’re focusing on the children. How are they like volcanos? Well, when volcanos heat up to a given temperature that is too high to contain the lava, they explode and erupt, spewing hot and destructive lava all over the place. When children are not successful in calming themselves, they become hotter and hotter, until there is an emotional outburst (an eruption, if you will). It is these outbursts that we are trying to teach them to control and minimise. Please remember that this is not the same as ignoring or supressing the emotion; rather, it is ensuring there is a greater chance of allowing children to calmly process the emotion. This will hopefully reduce the chances of the harmful lava being spewed and causing damage.
So, we’ve established that we are all like volcanos. The key difference, though, is that adults are normally better controlled volcanos who have built-in cooling systems that help to stifle the rising lava. Adults have lifetimes of experiences and an ability to use consequential thinking to help convince themselves that calming down and not having an award-winning paddy is probably the best way forward. Most adults have learned skills and strategies to help them stave off temper explosions and to much more quickly return to a calm state of equilibrium.
Children are unregulated volcanos. This is where we come in as adults. The book I’ve written, ‘Cool that Volcano’ has been written to help adults learn more about why the volcano erupts, and what they can do to initially be volcano coolers—before handing the icebergs over to the children—and help them learn how to be their own emotional police. Emotional management and calming down are skills, and like any other skill, it needs attention, practice, and reinforcement. These are the steps that are going to make your children expert volcano coolers.
As a psychologist with over 15 years’ experience of working with some of the most troubled people in society, I have come to learn the importance of emotional management skills in childhood. I have come to see the damage that can be caused when adults are less able to manage their feelings effectively. That was the inspiration for the book, and the feedback I’ve had has highlighted how people have used it to improve the lives of their children.
You can click here to take a closer look at the book.
As a thank you for taking the time to read this guest post, please download this FREE printable poster that you can use with your child to help them manage their emotions.