Many people who share Kidpower’s vision of creating cultures of safety, respect, and kindness for everyone, everywhere, ask,

 What can I do when young people in my care or other adults say or do things that are against these values?

The following Kidpower Intervention tools provide guidance for how to effectively and powerfully take action when you see people behaving in ways that are unsafe, hurtful, or break safety rules and values established for your family, school, workplace, or out in the community:

Set a good example including speaking up when adults model disrespect. Children learn more from your actions than your words. Avoid using sarcasm as a form of humor. Model resolving conflicts respectfully and powerfully.  If adults act disrespectfully, say with a positive attitude, “Excuse me. I understand that you were just joking or expressing your opinion. And I feel uncomfortable with comments like these in our community, We want everyone to feel welcome here.” See our article: Speaking Up About Put Downs.

Water what you want to see grow. Notice and point out ways that kids, adults, and characters in stories are making respectful choices and being kind to each other. Teach the skill of appreciation by helping children to notice good things that they can be thankful for or that others are doing and to express their gratitude. See The Art of Giving Thanks.

Teach kids understanding and empathy for differences. Read stories and play games that help children to see many different kinds of people in a positive light – and that show the importance of treating all people with kindness. Develop empathy about the harm done by hurtful behavior by helping children to think about, “How would you feel if someone did this to you?”

Teach and practice Kidpower social safety skills including impulse control so young people are prepared to take charge of safety. Be realistic and pay attention. Kids and adults alike need reminders about what is and is not okay. Upholding Kidpower’s Safety and Respect Message requires making an ongoing pledge to treat ourselves and others with safety and respect and is not just a one-time conversation.

Don’t let kids throw stones. Stop threatening behavior or disrespectful jokes, gestures, games, or play with the same intention that you would stop someone from throwing a stone through a window. Say, “Stop! That’s not respectful. Remember our Safety Rules!”

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Use harmful behavior as a teachable moment. Coach children to think about safer choices for resolving conflict, Help them to understand each other’s perspective. Use Practice as a Management Tool for Unsafe, Disrespectful Behavior by rehearsing social safety skills.

Make SURE kids know you care. Discuss the Kidpower Protection Promise at least once a year with the people in your life:  “YOU are very important to me. If you or others have a safety problem, I want to know – even if I am busy, even if someone we care about will be upset, even if it is embarrassing, even if you promised not to tell, and even if you made a mistake. Please tell me and I will do everything in my power to help you”

Provide support when a child comes to you for help. Say, “Thank you for telling me. I am sorry this happened and glad you came to me. We are going to figure out what to do in a way that does not cause bigger trouble for you.”  See: What to Do if a Child Comes to You For Help.

Take responsibility for stopping bullying in person and online. You’re the adult. Act. Stop bullying when you see it. Forcing a bullying youth and a bullied youth to “talk it out” rarely works well. Instead, you can require youth who bully to understand their harmful behavior and find ways to make amends. Involve parents, guardians, and other responsible adults in providing support and guidance. Tell parents and guardians about problems and your plan for solving them (if their child is bullying or being bullied, see: How Do I Stop My Child From Bullying? and How Do I Help A Child Who Was Severely Bullied Recover?)

For more information about Kidpower’s resources for teaching these Kidpower Social Safety Skills and concepts, please visit our online Library (free community membership) and our RelationSafe™ Bookstore.

(Are you a member of Kidpower’s Resource Library? Sign up or Login for direct downloads and free access to hundreds more Kidpower resources.)

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; and The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People.

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