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young girl smiling and holding two keys with quote below imageAfter more than three decades of experience teaching social emotional safety skills to people of all ages and abilities all over the world, we know that HOW we teach is as important as WHAT we teach. These 7 Keys can make a big difference in motivating and engaging people to practice skills to be safe:

  1. Stay calm – because fear and anxiety do not make anyone safer. Acting upset about the reasons for teaching safety skills just makes people worried and distracts them from learning.
  2. Make it fun – because people learn better when they are having fun. Vivid, upbeat, enthusiastic teachers make learning joyful instead of difficult.
  3. Make it simple and successful – because simple actions and words are easier to remember. Break skills into small steps. Coach people in the moment so that they can be successful each step of the way.
  4. Be consistent – because consistent messages make more sense.
 When everyone in a family, school, business, organization, or community shares a common language about safety, communication, and conflict resolution, they are more prepared to make safe and respectful choices.
  5. Practice – a lot! – because repeated, successful practice makes skills stronger and increases confidence. People are more likely to remember what they have actually done than what they have been shown, and they are more likely to remember what they have been shown than what they have been told.
  6. Make it relevant – because people learn a skill faster when it seems useful. Adapt examples for each person’s life situation, culture, age, and abilities. Make a bridge between where students are and what you want them to know. Look for opportunities in daily life to apply, reinforce, and review skills.
  7. Stay in charge – because leaders are responsible for the safety of those in their care or under their supervision as well as for ensuring that each person’s actions are safe and respectful. Powerful, respectful adult leadership is essential in guiding both young people and adults to use safety skills in daily life and in protecting them from harm.

Want to learn more about HOW to teach Kidpower skills to people of all ages and abilities in your life? See our Train with Kidpower page. Since 1989, Kidpower International has protected over 8 million children, teens, and adults, including those with special needs, from bullying, violence, and abuse through empowering people with knowledge and skills. Learn more through our Online Learning Center, live workshops, our extensive free online library, and books!

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Published: February 26, 2014   |   Last Updated: October 10, 2022

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.