There has been much discussion in the media of late about giving our kids a lifeline that they are free to use anytime! By a lifeline, I’m talking about a means of communication that tells you they need out of a situation.
It could be they have arrived at a party and have realised it’s not their scene. Or for younger children, they could be having a sleepover at the friend’s and don’t feel comfortable. Whatever the situation, your child needs a way out without losing face, without feeling embarrassed, without losing their social standing.
Setting up a universal sign or language in your family is a brilliant safety net and not only builds trust and a bond with your kids, but gives you, the parents, reassurance.
So in our family we have now adopted the much publicised X-Plan (By Bert Fulks and as seen on The Today Show, Good Housekeeping, HerViewFromHome, ScaryMommy, The Huffington Post, Mamamia, MomsEveryday, and numerous social and news media outlets. This is a simple but powerful tool that is a lifeline for our kids to use at any anytime; here’s how it works:
Let’s say my eldest is invited to party. We agree she can go, but have some reservations about the level of supervision and the fact they there may be some older kids attending. We remind her that if anything at the party makes her uncomfortable, all she has to do is text the letter “X” to any of us (me – her mother, her father, her grandparents etc.). The one who receives the text has a very basic script to follow. Within minutes, the recipient calls her phone and when she answers, the conversation goes like this:
“Sweetheart, something’s come up, and I have to come and get you right now.”
“I’ll let you when I get there. Be ready to leave in ten minutes. I’m on my way.”
At that point, my daughter tells her friends that something’s happened at home and that someone is coming to get her, and she has to leave.
In short, my daughter now as a way out; at the same time, there’s no pressure on her to open herself up to any social ridicule. She has the freedom to protect herself while continuing to grow and learn to navigate her world.
This is one of the most loving things you can give your children. It offers them a sense of security and confidence in a world that tends to beat our young people into submission. There is however, one critical component to the X-Plan; once your child has been extracted from the situation, the agreement is your child can tell you as much or as little as they want … It has to be completely up to them. The X-Plan comes with the agreement that we will pass no judgements and ask no questions. This can be a hard thing for some parents (admit it, some of us are complete control-freaks); but I promise it might not only save them, but it will go a long way in building trust between you and your child.
The only exception to the above rule is that if someone is in danger, your child has a moral obligation to speak up for the protection, no matter what it may cost them personally.
I urge you to use some form of X-Plan in your home. If you honour it, your kids will thank you for it. You never know when something so simple could be the difference between your kids laughing with you at the dinner table, or spending six months in a recovering centre or something far worse.
Cyber Mum Australia.
Source: Sections of this article were originally published at www.bertfulks.com and has been republished with full permission.d most importantly, we need to instil in our kids that we will listen, that we do understand what cyberbullying means and that we are prepared to take action before it gets bad. For information on what to do if you or your child encounters cyberbullying, I recommend going to www.esafety.gov.au where you can not only report the issues, but there are more helpful tips on what to do.