We had the pleasure of facilitating a PBs network meeting recently. Thank you to all who attended and for showing us and telling us about some of the amazing resources and practical ideas that you use with children and their families. What a difference these make to feelings of safety, self-esteem and self-empowerment and putting Theme 1 ‘We all have the right to feel safe all of the time’ and Theme 2 ‘We can talk with someone about anything even if it’s awful or small’ into practice….

Some of the wonderful ideas:

•  We are using flash cards and feelings cards to help children name or show feelings and build up their feelings vocabulary and ways to express themselves. Story books including The Huge Bag of Worries helping children learn to talk about their worries and develop networks of people to talk with. Session plans to work with both parents and children. Children identify a puppet or toy to talk with. (Children’s Centre)

Worry monsters or worry eaters can be bought or made.

•  We have run the 4 My Family and Me programme in partnership with Families Feeling Safe Service at our Addiction service.  The parents and carers gained a lot. Some of the people attending the addiction service who are not parents also attended the programme and found the content of the session really valuable for themselves. We also do role-modelling with parents about safe communication reminding parents about ‘little ears’ and the importance of realising that children can be listening even if they are upstairs or in another room. A really useful Protective Interruption to prevent children hearing things that may be worrying or feel scary.’ Morris the Bear’ a new Families Feeling Safe Service programme will be run in the summer holidays with parents and children together. (The Living Room)

•  We have ‘Safe Pods’ for Key Stages 1 & 2 in each classroom and are guiding children to use them. They’re made out of cardboard with an arc shaped entrance, lined with paper with comfy cushions inside. There’s a bag (wash bag) containing things like citrus playdough, a mirror,  ‘touchy- feely’ items, a plastic bottle with rice in and we ask the children what else they would like added so that we know what works for them. There’s a timer children can use so that staff know whether to go near them which provides a signal. The pods provide a safe place for children to take time to calm themselves.

The children also have ‘Calm Kits’ – these are different for each child. Other ‘tools’ used are Feelings faces using scaling 1-5 showing a range of feelings, 5 Deep Breaths, Steps to calm down. Classrooms have a ‘Chill Zone’; a Reflective area that children can go to. (Primary School)

•  Helping children feel safe to join a group. Finding out what a child likes. One child said he liked planets. Sue talked about getting some polystyrene balls, painting them like planets and taking them to the group. The child who had refused so far to join the group came in straight away, stopped crying and played with them for a while. He then put them down and joined in with other activities. What a great example of enabling a child to Risk on Purpose. (Home-Start)

•  Making A ‘Brilliant Box’ Decorating a box and putting things in it such as a photo of someone special, something that they have made, a written note about an achievement or something they have done well. Putting a date on the things in the box can be helpful too.

•  Working with unaccompanied children in secondary school. There are several children in school who have no families here due to seeking asylum. PBs is so relevant and Unwritten Rules of differing cultures, traditions are confusing or unknown. Booklets are made with the children, help with new routines, pictures to point at, knowing when family may arrive.

•  Using ‘Kind words’ and ‘Snakes and Ladders’. A great alternative to a rewards and punishment approach. Making up a new game of snakes and ladders with tiny snakes and big ladders. A child gets to go up a big ladder when heard using kind words!

•  Cards to enable conversations:

E.g. Questions cards, Feelings Cards, Strength cards, Blob cards. These can be handmade by cutting out photos, pictures, calendars, magazines, statements or can be bought.

Jill talked about children/adults choosing 2 opposite feelings e.g. happy & sad then asking the person to choose a strength that might help them get from feeling sad to feeling happy.

We could have spent more time but time ran out though we had just enough time to paint a few pebbles! PBs Pebbles! They could be used to write a strength, a feeling, a PBs message or Theme. Ping pong balls could be a safer option where needed.

Thank you again to all who shared their PBs knowledge, skills and ideas.

Looking forward to next time!