Traumatic experiences are a big deal…but Big Bird’s got a big spirit, a big heart, and big dreams. That’s why he’s the perfect bird to teach kids (and grown-ups too!) how to imagine the important coping strategy of creating their own safe place inside. Use this storybook, video, digital interactive, and coloring page to help kids learn the strategy themselves.
Read Comfy-Cozy Nest
Launch Comfy-Cozy Nest
Share this story with kids.
Watch Comfy-Cozy Nest
Big Bird’s struggling after a confusing and upsetting thing happened, and Alan notices his friend’s having a hard time before Big Bird even says a word. As you watch this video together with kids, notice the qualities Alan demonstrates during their conversation. As a supportive, trusted adult, he:
- is patient, comforting, and a good listener
- lets Big Bird know that he’s seen, heard, and cared for
- helps provide a safe, calm environment
- teaches strategies for self-soothing
The presence of a caring adult makes all the difference in the life of a child coping with the effects of trauma. Like Alan, you can communicate messages to kids such as:
- You’re not alone. I’m here for you.
- I have some ideas about what we could do to help you feel better.
- I’m listening to you. You matter.
- What you say, feel, and think is important to me.
- Let me help you put some words to your feelings.
- Sometimes problems are too big to handle yourself. It’s smart to ask for help.
- Let’s find a way to help you do or think about things you love.
- Thank you for trusting me.
- I’m interested in you and what’s happening inside you.
- There are other adults who care for you, too.
- It’s great to share a special time together.
Talk Through Comfy-Cozy Nest
In Comfy-Cozy Nest, Big Bird imagines his safe place inside. Refer to this printable page to help kids do the same.
Play Comfy-Cozy Nest
Launch Comfy-Cozy Nest
Through this interactive activity, children can begin to explore strategies for calming and comforting themselves. When Big Bird has big feelings, he creates a safe place in his imagination, a big nest filled with all his favorite things – like birdseed cookies and a picture of Granny Bird. Children can explore the concept of a safe place through helping Big Bird decorate his safe place.
You can use this tool when kids need calming down, or any time at all. Introduce the idea of a safe place—a place you can go in your imagination to feel safe and calm (all kids and adults can benefit from this strategy)!
Explain that when Big Bird has big feelings, he creates a safe place—a big nest—in his imagination. But he needs to practice this strategy, and he’ll need kids’ help:
- taking deep belly breaths to get ready
- decorating his nest
- deciding which music to listen to
- choosing what to do in his nest and paying close attention to each thing as he does it
- noticing everything he sees and hears around him
Prompt children as needed to help them play the game. When kids are finished, ask, “What were some things you helped Big Bird do?” to see if they can remember any parts of Big Bird’s strategy. The more they play, and the more they see this video and storybook, the more opportunity they have to internalize the strategy to use later.
Color Big Bird’s Nest
For both adults and children, coloring can help reduce stress. This adult-child collaborative coloring page promotes relaxed time together. As you color, try paying attention to the details of the design, the sensation of the pencil on the page, and encourage children to do the same.
In the aftermath of trauma, when our brains may be “hijacked” by fear, anxiety, or anger, a nonverbal activity such as coloring or doing a jigsaw puzzle together can help us reconnect and get “unstuck.”
This collaborative coloring page can help adults communicate important ideas without saying a word: We can relax together. We can have a good time together. We can concentrate. I am here with you. I am listening. I am interested in you. We can share feelings. We can make something beautiful, even when the world around us feels ugly.
Kids can use crayons or markers. Colored pencils or thin-tipped markers work well for the detailed “adult” areas, but crayons will work too!
- Sit side by side with the child, in a quiet space with a surface. You might put on music you both like.
- Kids color the large Muppet image, adults color the more detailed background.
- Remember there’s no right or wrong way to color; the goal is to sit and relax together. It’s okay to sit without talking, too!
- Show pride in your child’s accomplishment.
- Help them remember the time you spent together by displaying the completed page.
Before, during, or after coloring, try these ideas:
- Say, “Big Bird feels cozy and safe in his nest. Where do you go to feel like that?”
- Ask, “Would you like to have your very own nest? Why or why not?”
- Ask, “If you had a nest, what would you do there? What would you want to keep in there to feel calm and safe?”
- Display your work at home!