I read an interesting article recently by a guy called Bert Fulks who spends time with young people going through addiction recovery.
The subject he had written about really resonated with me as a youth coach and a parent.
He asked his young people a simple question: “How many of you have found yourself in a situation where things started happening that you were not comfortable with, but you stuck around mainly because you felt like you did not have a way out?”
They all raised their hands!
The situations they had found themselves in were to do with sex, drugs, alcohol and crime and usually when they were not ready for it.
Peer pressure and not wanting to be socially different pushed them into doing things they would not normally do. They said they felt cornered and there was no alternative. In some cases they were not where they had told their parents they were going so asking to be rescued was not an option. Drinking the alcohol or taking the drugs was an easier option than being in trouble with Mum and Dad.
This is where the “X-Plan” comes in and provides a young person with an ‘out.’ It is a simple but powerful plan that can provide a lifeline to our children at any time.
For example, if a young person is dropped off at a party and something comes up that makes them feel uncomfortable or they do not want to do it then all they have to do is text Mum or Dad a letter “X.” The person who receives the text rings the young person and follows a very specific conversation format, something like this:
(Parent) “Hello, something has come up and I have to come and get you right now.”
(Young Person) “What has happened?”
(Parent) “I will tell you when I get there. Be ready to leave as I am on my way.”
The young person tells the group they have to leave and that someone is coming to get them.
This provides the young person with a way out whilst not opening themselves up to social ridicule.
The critical part of the X-Plan once the young person has been removed from the situation is that they do not have to talk about what has happened. The choice is completely theirs as to whether they want to or not. Also there has to be an agreement that parents will pass no judgements and ask no questions about the situation. There has to be a relationship of trust between all parties if this is to work effectively.
The only exception is that if the young person knows that someone is in danger then they have a moral obligation to speak up for their protection, no matter what it may cost them personally.
Coaching young people in school often means that we discuss the negative impact technology and social media has on our lives. In the case of the X-Plan it means we can use technology to help our children where we can and in a more positive way.
I feel that the X-Plan certainly offers young people an alternative option when difficult situations arise and a plan of action for parents to give their children a way out.
If you know of a young person that is struggling in life and would benefit from life coaching then please contact me.