Have you heard of safe words for kids? Do you already use them? If not, this your guide to get started.
What are safe words for kids?
Safe words are code words kids can use to discretely signal to their parents or to confirm someone is parent-approved. Choose your safe word with your kids. Stay away from things people outsiders can guess, like names of family members. But choose a word that’s easy for your family to remember.
Safety experts recommend changing them about every 6 month. But if that’s too hard to remember, change them annually on a birthday or other holiday.
When and how are safe words used?
Kids can use safe words when they want to leave uncomfortable situations or when they are being picked up by someone other than their parent:
- If they are at a sleepover, party, or other social situation where they feel uncomfortable and want to return home
- If you can’t pick them up and send someone else like a family friend or neighbor, your child should ask them for the safe word before coming along. If they don’t know it, your child can seek help or just refuse to go along.
The x-plan for teens
For adolescents and teens who have cellphones, the x-plan allows them to text you a simple “x” to get picked up, with no consequences.
The rule with the x-plan is that if they use the “x”:
- You can’t ask questions about the situation they needed help with (for example, asking for details about a party they wanted to leave)
- You cannot punish them for it
The x-plan creates “immunity” for teens who may feel a sense of shame or fear of judgement about a decision they’ve made. Shame can be a powerful and dangerous barrier between parents and kids (especially teens and young adults), and this is a simple way to remove that and step in when they need you.
This is a fantastic video explaining x-plans.