I use the signal word when I see my toddler approaching a road, beginning to pick up something sharp, reaching towards a hot stove, nearing a ledge, or any other physically dangerous situation. I even use it in an informative way as I open the oven in the kitchen. I say “Danger! Back up, I’m opening the hot oven. Danger! It is so hot and would burn me. Stand against the dishwasher until I’m done.”
When she hears the word “DANGER!” she pauses and looks at me. Then I can give her important information about the situation. After I’ve said “DANGER!” and she looks at me, I can say “That road has cars. We stay on the sidewalk when we play.” or “That knife is very sharp. Only mommies touch sharp knives.” or “Careful! That stove is super hot and if you touch it, it will burn your hand and you will get an ouchie!”
Something I really love about using the signal word is that she has come to understand it so well that she seems to understand that i’m not angry at her, i’m only warning her. She never gets sad or upset after I use this word. We are able to talk about dangers and how to use things appropriately and how to navigate the world safely without having to get angry and yell. She seems to really respect my knowledge of “danger” and seems comfortable exploring as her knowledge of the world grows. She can try new things with the confidence that her mom there, to teach her about how to navigate this big world.