Cool That Volcano – My Review.

Cool That Volcano by Peter Black is a book that claims to ” Help children stay calm, manage anger and master emotions.” I’ve been reading this book over the past few weeks and must say that these claims, based up on psychological expertise surrounding the behaviour of children seems pretty spot on to me as a parent.

The book acts as a guide for parents to:

  1. Teach your child to recognise problematic emotions.
  2. Teach your child how to calm down and manage anger.
  3. Teach your child how to talk about their feelings.
  4. Teach your child how to achieve mastery of their emotions.
  5. Think about your own approach to emotional management.

Already, after a few weeks, thanks to the clever volcano analogy that the author uses to help us make sense of erupting childhood emotions, I have found myself thinking differently about those moments of emotional instability in my own children. Black likens these emotions to lava, which becomes too hot and eventually leads to eruption, reminding us that we too, as adults have bubbling lava emotions, but that we are much better trained at controlling and preventing such emotions from turning into an eruption. I found this particularly useful in sympathising with my kids, to be reminded that as humans, we all feel anger, pain, frustration, fear and sadness, but that children may need extra support in expressing these emotions and feelings and prevent them from heating up and erupting.

Black uses short, sharp chapters to first explain this behavioural theory and then provide useful, achievable methods to help both parents and children deal with tricky emotional feelings before the eruption occurs. The short chapters make the book easy to pick up and put down throughout the day and allow you to take in and really understand small bits of information at a time, which for busy parents is an essential feature.

The language used in the book also helps in this respect. It is technical and professional enough that you trust Black’s expertise without being full of psychological jargon. Black gets to the point swiftly and clearly, and I found myself immediately thinking of emotions using the volcano analogy and automatically applying the methods suggested.

My favourite thing about the method set out in this book is the idea that emotional management is something that should be done in partnership with your child. This not only motivates them to try the techniques suggested, but it gives them responsibility and ownership of their own emotions and behaviours. I have already introduced the idea to my children, and at ages 4 and 7 they were both able to understand the analogy and talk about how it feels when that lava begins to bubble and spit.

After introducing the concept of the volcano, Black then suggests that a sensible way to cool the red hot lava is by introducing an iceberg. The icebergs are essentially calming methods which we can teach our children to employ when they feel that an eruption is possible. Again the analogy is effective and makes the process easier to understand, more concrete and less abstract for children who benefit greatly from solid, explainable examples.

I loved the fact that the author not only explains the theory but then goes on to suggest some practical methods that parents can try alongside their children in a process of dialogue and trial and error. Black reminds us that like learning, emotional management won’t be a ‘one size fits all’ phenomenon, but rather an exercise in figuring out which methods work best for each individual child. This is so true! My girls both respond very differently to the same method. My seven year old benefits greatly from breathing techniques and having time to calm, whereas my four year old needs something physical such as squeezing a pillow to let out the pent up emotion. I love the fact that the author recognises this and gives a variety of techniques to try.

I feel that already, my children and I are benefiting from the method in this book. It’s a wonderful, no shame, guilt free theory which normalises both childhood emotion and parenting vulnerabilities without judgement, instead reminding us that we’re all human and we can all benefit from learning techniques to help cool our volcanoes.

I would highly recommend to all parents, as an easy ‘go to’ method which can be done in partnership with your children and teach them and you an awful lot about behaviour and emotion management.

You can get a copy of ‘COOL THAT VOLCANO’ by Peter Black here:

Disclaimer – I was sent a copy of this book to read and review by the author, but all views and opinions are my own.

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