s is for “stop hand” safety plan

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originally posted in September 2018

It seems timely to share one of our newest “safety plans” at preschool. We have preschoolers who, for a variety of reasons, are nonverbal or limited in their verbal communication.

In an attempt to equip them with another option for self advocacy, I spontaneously instituted a new safety plan:

If someone puts their hand forward in a “stop” fashion, the plan is that the other person immediately turn and walk away. (not just stay outside of their bubble, but actually retreat)

What we do next depends on the moment. Does the “stopper” feel safe? Did the “walker” leave? Does the “walker” or “stopper” want to process what happened? Does the “walker” feel wrongly accused? It’s potentially messy, with misunderstandings and hurt feelings possible…and that’s what we teachers are there to help navigate.

And, imagine this….deep breath….

imagine living your life

where silently lifting your hand

forward in the direction of anyone

would guarantee

your boundary



It heals me.


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