It’s the end of the school year – finally! This is the time of year that’s filled with lots of parties- graduations, end of school year, summer picnics, beach days! With all of these celebrations, your teens – and middle schoolers too – may be headed to a party without your supervision. There they could be exposed to some things they normally wouldn’t be on your watch. Before you send them out the door, offer them a quick solution if they feel like something is uncomfortable.
Discuss What Situations They May Encounter
Before they leave the house, have a quick talk about things that may come up at the party and how to handle these situations. What do you do if someone asks you to drink? What if there are drugs there? What if there is bullying? What if your ride home is impaired? Best case scenario, none of those situations will come up. Worst case scenario, some or all will happen, but by talking about it, your kids will be prepared for it.
We have talked about how to tackle peer pressure here, mostly before it happens. Today we are going to arm your kids with a backup plan to get out of a bad situation when the other tactics don’t work.
Text me “X”
This article about the “X plan” over at the Today Parenting Team Community gives a great example of a plan that works. Just like you may have used this tactic back in your dating days, it works the same for kids in bad situations, too. It’s really simple for them to remember and is only three steps.
1. They send you a signal via text.
2. You call them with a reason to come home
3. You or someone responsible goes to pick them up.
You can set your own code word or phrase, but the important thing is that you both agree on the plan of action when they send it to you. The easiest thing to do would be to give them a call telling them something came up at home and you are outside waiting on them.
If you go with a different code word, have your child pick the word. Like “camping.” That way, if you get a call (or text) from your child, and hear “When are we going camping?” or “I don’t WANT to go camping!” You know that is the sound of your child pulling the cord on their emergency parachute.
You are that emergency parachute.
There are some people that may argue that you should let your kids figure it out for themselves and not go and “rescue” them, but a key step to building resilient kids is having them handle a difficult situation and learn from it. Coming up with a plan to get themselves out of it and being responsible enough to ask for help is a crucial skill.
Encourage them to identify the signs of a social situation turning bad. Instead of not letting them go to that party, you may choose to let them go, and arm them with the tools they need to keep themselves safe.
There is a lot of pressure on kids to stay in a social situation. And texting “Mom, please come pick me up, I’m uncomfortable” is darn risky. Kids grab each others’ phones and read their texts. All. The. Time.
Give your child this Plan B and help them navigate the social world with more confidence.