What If Games

Safety conversation starters with children and teens

"What-if" games are a great way to help children and teens think about how to handle potentially dangerous situations. Adults can use what-if questions to spark conversation with children and teenagers while they are in the car, at the store or during any other shared time.

"What-if" games are most effective when they are used often and in non-threatening situations. Keep the tone positive and provide lots of encouragement. Ask your kids the "what if" questions below and listen carefully to their answers. While there is no single correct answer, we've provided some key talking points you can share with your kids during your discussion. But don't stop here. Keep the conversations going with some creative scenarios of your own – it's a great way to keep the dialogue going at home.

What would you do if...

...your brother's friend gave you $20, but said to keep it a secret? 
You should never be asked to keep a secret from your parent(s). If someone asks you to keep any kind of secret from your parents, tell an adult you trust right away. It may be helpful to talk with your children about the big difference between surprises and secrets. Surprises are kept quiet for a short time and when everyone find out about the surprise, they are happy — like a surprise birthday party. Secrets are something you are asked to keep quiet about for a long time, maybe even forever. Surprises are okay and secrets are not.

...someone sent you a picture on the Internet that made you feel uncomfortable?
Don't delete the email or chat, just turn off your monitor and tell your parent or caregiver about what you've seen. Never respond to offensive or dangerous online message. Depending on the kind of photo you were sent, an adult can tell law enforcement about the situation, or report to CyberTipline at (800) 843-5678 which also takes reports of illegal images/online crimes against children and youth.

...your neighbor offered you a ride home from school so that you don't have to walk?
You should always check first with your parent or caregiver before going anywhere with anyone — even if you know them. You can even make a special code word that only your family knows, like “popcorn.” Don't go with anyone who doesn't know the code word.

...you told an adult about something that made you feel afraid, but they didn't believe you?
Not all adults, even people who care about you and want to help, always know what to do to keep kids safe and happy. You deserve to be safe and to share your feelings with trusted adults. Tell as many people as you need to, like your teacher or youth group counselor, until someone understands and helps.

...someone is watching you and your friends play at the park and that makes you feel scared?
Always trust your feelings or your gut instinct. Leave the park right away, remembering to use the buddy system. Check back in with your parent or caregiver and tell them what happened. Your friends should also check back in with their parent/caregiver about why you left and where you are playing now.