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Heart Power helps us to stay kind and protect our feelings.

How many times do we tell children to “use your words” because they are making less effective or more hurtful choices such as hitting, kicking, shoving, grabbing, or biting? The reality is that staying in control of our bodies when we are angry can be hard at any age. Having something else to do and practicing this as a separate skill can make a big difference in the heat of the moment.

Many Kidpower skills prepare us to take charge of our emotional triggers and stay in charge of what we do and say no matter how we feel inside. Our Kidpower Safety Signals provide quick, easy-to-remember gestures with simple words and graphics that can be practiced with even young children within a few minutes – and also can be a useful tool to help adults remember to use these skills.

I remember one workshop in a special education classroom where a twelve-year-old boy often exploded into tantrums. We had practiced Calm Down Power with each of the students when he was not upset. As I was leaving, I saw that he was getting ready to explode because of frustration.

His teacher stood right in front of him and, calling his name (not the one here) in a kind and clear voice, said, “Remember, Chris, use your Calm Down Power!”

She made the Calm Down Power gesture and coached him to squeeze his palms together, straighten his back, and take a breath. To both our surprise, he copied the gestures, followed her directions, and CALMED DOWN!

The Kidpower Safety Signals for staying safe with your body include: Calm Down Power, Hang On Power, Hands and Feet Down Power, Mouth Closed Power, and, because these are hard to keep using, Walk Away Power and Getting Help Power.

Here’s how to introduce and practice these skills with one or more children using our Kidpower Positive Practice Teaching Method.

“How many of you have ever felt really angry before?” (Raise your hand and pause to let children raise theirs.)

“It is normal to get mad at people sometimes – especially if someone takes something of ours, calls us names, acts scary, or hurts us physically. Or when we feel very frustrated or disappointed. Even though we know we are not supposed to hit, shove, grab, or push, it can be really hard to stay in charge of our bodies when we feel upset.”

“When our bodies want to act really angry, Kidpower Safety Signals can help us remember to stay safe with our bodies and in charge of our power.”

calm down power“First of all, let’s practice the Kidpower Safety Signal of Calm Down Power. Everyone, squeeze the palms of your hands together, like this.” (Put your palms together, not in a praying position but crossways with your fingers on one hand pointing up and on the other pointing sideways – or with your fingers on each hand pointing towards your towards the wrists of the other hand. Then, do and say the following gestures and words and coach your students to do the same.) “Now, everyone, straighten your backs, look at me, and take a breath in and slowly let it out again. Everyone say, ‘Calm Down Power.’ Great!”

hang on powerNow, let’s practice Hang On Power.” (Do and say the following gestures and words and coach children to do the same.) Everyone, grab the sides of your pants or skirt or legs and say, ‘Hang On Power!’ Wonderful! When you are hanging onto yourself, it is hard to bother someone else. Wonderful!

hands and feet down power“Next, let’s practice, Hands and Feet Down Power. ” (Do and say the following gestures and words and coach children to do the same.) “Everyone, reach out into the air, not towards someone else, and imagine you are about to grab, shove, or hit someone with your hands. Now, use your power to put your hands down. Everyone say, ‘Hands Down Power.’ Terrific! This can be hard work when your body wants to do something else!

“Now, imagine that your feet want to kick someone or something. Use your power to glue your feet to the floor.” (Act as if your feet are stuck to the floor and then coach students to do this and repeat after you.) “Everyone say, ‘Feet Down Power.’ Excellent!”

mouth closed power“Next, let’s practice Mouth Closed Power! Everyone imagine you are about to do something unsafe with your mouth like saying something really unkind and squeeze your lips together like this. (Squeeze your own lips together and coach children to do this and repeat after you.) Everyone, open your mouths to say, ‘Mouth Closed Power.’ Mouth Closed Power can also help you to avoid sticking your tongue out at someone or eating something you shouldn’t.”

walk away power“If someone is really upsetting you, you are safest if you use your Walk Away Power. Everyone, walk your feet in place on the floor and imagine you are walking away from someone who is bothering you. (Walk your own feet in place and coach students to do this and to repeat after you. ) “Everyone say, ‘Walk Away Power.’ (If you have room and time, you can also just coach children to walk away from you with calm, respectful, and confident faces and bodies.)

get help power

If you are still having a hard time staying safe with your body, or if you are still feeling very upset, it is important to use your Get Help Power by going to an adult you trust and talking over the problem. Everyone reach your arms out in front of you like this. (Reach out yourself with your palms up and your elbows close to your body and coach students to do this and repeat after you).” Everyone say, ‘I need help!’ Fantastic! Put graphic here! “And, if you ask me for help, I will say, ‘I will help you!'”

Nothing works all the time – but these skills work a lot of the time!

Learn more about our Kidpower Safety Signals, including an ebook with graphics with directions that you can download for personal use.

Kidpower Safety Signals provide quick, easy-to-remember gestures with simple words and graphics that can be practiced with even young children within a few minutes – and also can be a useful tool to help adults remember to stay in charge of what we say and do, even if we are angry.

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

(Are you a member? Sign-up or Login for direct downloads and free access to 100s more Kidpower resources.)


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Published: February 1, 2016   |   Last Updated: May 9, 2017

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; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.