NOTE: As with every workshop in this topic, these activities can benefit both kids and adults, individually or together, one-on-one or in groups. Depending on who you’re working with at a given time, adapt or omit activities as you see fit—you know your kids and families best!

Our brains respond to danger and stress by going into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode. Chronic adversity means we stay in that mode even when the threat is gone. Being in a constant state of hypervigilance—of tightness and anxiety—blocks us from the more helpful resources our brains can offer.

When children feel a sense of safety, their brains begin to calm. Then they can start exploring strategies and solutions that can bring them a little relief or “shelter from the storm” of sadness, anxiety, anger, fear, or confusion.

Traumatic experiences can shake one’s foundation and leave one feeling unsteady and vulnerable. Strategies such as creating a real or imagined safe place make a big difference.

  1. 1

    I Can Feel Safe


    First, explain that Elmo was feeling scared and sad and needed a safe, cozy place. Together, watch “I Can Feel Safe”—in which Elmo has built his very own blanket fort—all the way through. Talk about what kind of safe places kids might create for themselves.

    You can also explore Big Bird’s strategy for feeling safe here.

  2. 2

    My Safe Place

    Download printable

    Help kids and adults create their own safe places—in their imaginations—with a visualization activity. Talk them through the four-step instructions on this printable page.