Resources for parents and carers to improve a child’s safety, improve communications and allow them to share their worries, fears and anything that might cause them to feel anxious.
Create a Worry Jar
Create a worry jar with your child. Find a glass or plastic jar or container. Encourage your child to personalise or decorate it and label it with their name (e.g., ‘Alex’s Worry Jar’ or ‘My Worry Jar’). Once the jar is finished, help your child write down all of their worries on a list on paper. You and your child can then cut each worry into its own strip of paper. Fold each worry and put it in the jar. Once all the worries are inside, they can close the jar.
The next step is to schedule “Worry Time”. Worry time is a set time of day when your child is encouraged to worry as much as they want. This specific time acts as a way to contain the worries. The key is to remember that when worry time is over, you and your child know that the worrying can end for the day.
Create a Helping Hand
A ‘Helping Hand’ can encourage children to identify a support system they can use if they feel unsafe or need help. It requires them to identify “trusted” people such as parents or guardians, family members, teachers etc. These people should be adults that they trust and who listen to them.
How to make a Helping Hand:
- Help the child identify and draw five adults they trust and by whom they feel listened to. Label each individual in each of the fingers.
- Add a contact number for each adult that the child can use should they need to contact them.
- Explore why and who we might choose to talk to if we have a worry or concern.
Encourage the child to keep their helping hand somewhere safe and use it if they feel unsafe or need someone to talk to.
These are like the worry jars. Every night and every day, they turn fears and worries into nice stories to enjoy together or alone. Worry monster loves to eat worries – they are their favourite meal. They can be taken with you wherever you go. The worry monster’s motto is “We eat your worries”. Psychologists and teachers recommend them to act as a waste bin for the fears, troubles and woes that children may not always tell parents/other adults about.
Hand breathing is a method that we can use with children, teenagers, or adults. The focus is on controlled breaths, which can help us to breathe easily, calm our body, relax our mind, help us feel in control, unwind and to feel peaceful.
To use this technique:
- Take a deep breath.
- Encourage children to place their hand in front of them, palm facing them.
- Spread fingers apart.
- Place the pointer finger from their other hand at the outside of their thumb.
- Inhale deeply and trace the from the base of the thumb to fingertip.
- Exhale slowly and trace down to the inside of the thumb.
- Inhale slowly and trace up the finger.
- Exhale slowly and trace down the other side of the finger.
- Repeat for all five fingers.
- Stretch and wiggle fingers.
This is a simple and effective technique; this combines the relaxing power of deep breathing with the benefits of colour therapy. It can help relieve stress, achieve comfort and wellbeing, and regulate emotions. It is an easy tool to use:
- Choose a quiet place – somewhere without distractions.
- Settle in – be comfortable, sit or lie but keep your back straight
- Start breathing properly – close your eyes and begin breathing slowly and deeply; find a breathing rate that is comfortable for you but slow.
- Choose a colour that represents an emotion, i.e. happiness and wellbeing. Think of this colour when you breathe in slowly. Then when you breathe out, imagine another colour representing fear and anxiety. Visualise it leaving your body.
- Continue this exercise for a few minutes; feel and imagine how the colour floods you with positive emotions.
- End the exercise – focus back on your breathing. Begin to move your fingers, your head and then limbs gently, and when you feel ready, open your eyes.
How Are You Feeling Today Baby Bear
by Jane Evans (for children aged 2-6 yrs)
Baby Bear lives in a home with the big bears and loves to chase butterflies and make mud pies – they make Baby Bear’s tummy fill with sunshine. Then, one night, Baby Bear hears a big storm downstairs in the house and in the morning, Baby Bear’s tummy starts to feel grey and rainy. How will such a small bear cope with these big new feelings?
This sensitive, charming storybook is written to help children who have lived with violence at home begin exploring and naming their feelings.
Accompanied by notes for adults on how to use each page of the story to start conversations, it also features fun games and activities to help to understand and express difficult emotions.
The Huge Bag of Worries
by Virginia Ironside and Frank Rodgers (for children aged 4-9 yrs)
The book follows the daily life of a young named Jenny who worries about absolutely everything, but because she does not know how to stop worrying, a massive bag of worries appears at the end of her bed. This bag follows her everywhere she goes; no matter what she tries, the huge bag will not go away. Jenny cannot find anyone to talk to about it because she thinks they will not understand, so she begins to think that this vast bag will never disappear. But then hope is found for Jenny when she confines in an old lady who opens up the bag and talks to her about each one. Jenny then realises that those worries do not seem that big after all and that sharing them with someone else really helps.
Creating a Safety Plan for a Child
A safety plan looks at what your child might be worried about; it will help protect them from getting hurt and keep them safe.
Safety plans can come in many forms, and this can be designed however you feel best, what your child likes; it can be colourful, made with crayons, coloured pencils etc. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. The idea is that it will provide information to the child to help keep them safe in certain situations. There is no right or wrong way to complete a safety plan.
Safety plans usually contain some or all the following:
- Keeping safe at home = my safe place inside my house is (the place can be named or drawn), the person I can call is, their number is,
- Keeping safe out & about = my safe place outside my house is, my safe contact is
- Contacts = who can I phone if I am hurt or might get hurt, provide numbers of services, 999, Childline, NSPCC.
- Keeping safe on my phone and online = saving emergency numbers on speed dial, being aware of location devices, keeping safe on social media
- Trusted people = I will talk to someone that I trust about what is happening to me so that I have a friend that I can turn to; this person is their contact is.
- Support services = I know the details of 2 support services that I can contact who understand about young people and how domestic abuse impacts them; these two services are i.e. Rotherham Rise and Childline.