building a sense of safety

In life story work we have to address the child’s complex safety issues before we start on information sharing. Pay this important area of work the attention it deserves and this can help prevent hyper aroused states and provide valuable information for you as the worker as to how to scaffold the child. A safety checklist can help you plan activities for the child, but could also be an activity in itself if you use your creativity to engage the child through the use of puppets, art making or creative writing activities. 

  • What makes you feel safe? ( a person, object, place)
  • Is there anything you keep with you to make you feel safe and loved? (a teddy, comforter, photograph, cushion)
  • What is your favourite thing to do that makes you feel happy or relaxed? (listening to music, reading, trampolining)
  • What makes you feel afraid or anxious? (right now, at night, at school)
  • How would I know if you were feeling scared? Could you let me know?
  • Do you notice any changes in your body when you feel afraid or anxious? (heart beating faster, sweaty palms, tummy ache)
  • Is there anything about where we are meeting that makes you feel afraid or anxious? (me, the room, the noises, the other staff)
  • How can I help to make you feel safe when you are working with me?

If appropriate, we are increasingly including carers (foster or residential) and adoptive parents directly in our life story work with children and young people because they are often the right people to reinforce a sense of safety and provide physical and emotional containment through the difficult stages of this work. Parents and carers are also of course great sources of up to date information when building on resilience and boosting self esteem.

Adapted from: Life story work with children who are fostered or adopted: Creative Ideas and  Activities, Wrench and Naylor (2013)