How to be a safe adult

02 December 2022
Volume 3 · Issue 6


Every child needs a safe adult, especially if they have faced trauma or are vulnerable. Dr Pooky Knightsmith describes the five Cs of being a safe adult.

A safe adult is one that a child knows they can trust and rely on.

In schools, they enable children to feel physically, emotionally, academically and socially safe and they are especially important for children who are trauma experienced, vulnerable or have additional or special needs.

However, every child (and adult) benefits from having safe adults in their lives. Safe adults are what enable children to do the important work of being children. Without safe adults, children become mini-adults, carrying the weight of adult responsibilities and worries.

I have started teaching about how to be a safe adult using 5Cs which I will explore with you in this article:

Consider these a starting point and feel free to adapt them and add more ideas of your own depending on what you think is important to the children in your context.

Children, especially those who are distressed, need adults who seem calm and in control. Our calm is catching and after a little while, children will fall in step with our breathing and body language during distress situations. You could try:

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