How to Tell if Your Child Has Asthma
How to Find out if Your Child Is Hiding Something
If you suspect your child is doing something he/she shouldn't be, you have the responsibility as his/her parent to protect him/her. Of course, children and adolescents should be given age-appropriate freedoms, but they also require careful monitoring to keep them away from danger or risky situations. Learn how to get to the bottom of the issue if your child is hiding something.
Watching for Signs that Something Is Wrong
Watch for new behaviors.It requires a lot of energy for adolescents to keep undesirable behaviors hidden from their parents. The bigger the issue your child is hiding, the more likely it is that there are questionable patterns in his behavior that point to the misdeed. Below are some new behaviors you might observe in your child:
- Sudden surge in phone calls; talking for longer durations (possibly in hushed tones).
- Increase in TV watching.
- Increase in online web browsing time (possibly being used to chat with others or research a secret topic).
- New friends being mentioned that you haven't met.
- New style of dress.
- New words or phrases.
- New interests (i.e. music, leisure activities, movies, etc.).
- More irritable.
- Rolling eyes.
- Stomping off after talking to you.
- Constantly demand privacy when he/she hasn't before.
Look for a decrease in old behaviors.Just as new behaviors may pop up in a secretive child, you may also notice a decline in his/her normal behavioral patterns. Perhaps your child was once very respectful, and now he/she mouths off at any chance. Your child may no longer do the following:
Maintain contact with the parents of your child's friends.It may also be a good idea to make friends with the parents of you child's friends and even parents of kids your child does not hang out with. Doing so keeps you in the loop and gives you access to a buddy system for gaining information about your child and his/her friends.
Establishing Healthy Exchanges
Keep your door open.Your child should know that she can come to you at any time to talk. You might think your child already knows this, but reminding him/her on occasion may be helpful. This should be done with no pressure, not after a room search or questioning.
- Simply say "I understand that you may be going through things that are confusing or troubling. Growing up can be hard. You can always come and talk to me about anything — no matter how small."
- When your child does open up, reinforce this behavior by affirming it: "I know that must have been hard for you to talk about. I really appreciate you trusting me to tell me about what's going on with you."
Attend to your child.Parents are often juggling a dozen tasks at once, which means you may miss opportunities to have meaningful conversations with your child. When your child decides to talk to you, aim to listen.
- Monitor your nonverbal body language to ensure that it is open (i.e. arms and legs uncrossed), that you are oriented towards him/her, that you make regular eye contact, and that you make expressions to show you are listening, such as nodding.
- When you fail to attend to your child when he/she is trying to talk to you, you send the message that what he has to say isn't important.This may cause him/her to keep things to himself/herself in the future.
Look for conversation openers.When your child has the need to talk to you, try to make yourself available as soon as possible. You've learned that your body language can signal a disinterest in what your child has to say. This is also true when you miss conversation openers.
- Consider this scenario: Your teenage daughter comes home upset. You ask what's wrong and she starts talking about a fight with her best friend. You realize that she is only upset about "teenage drama" and you slowly tune her out or half-listen. If she notices that you are not engaging in the conversation, she will shut down.
- Use even the simplest conversations as a way to connect with and get closer to your child. If she feels like she can talk to you about the little things, she may be more confident that you'll listen in on the big things.
Investigating Possible Cover-Ups
Search his room.As an adult in your household and primary protector of your children, you have an obligation to know what your children are up to. You never know whether you need to be protecting your child from someone else or from himself. It may feel deeply wrong to snoop around your child's room. But, if you suspect he is hiding something — and he is unlikely to fess up on his own — taking a look around his bedroom might be the only way to shed light on the situation.
- If you decide to search, look in drawers beneath or between clothes, under the bed, in between notebooks, CD or DVD cases, in backpacks or duffel bags, in pockets of clothes hanging in the closet, inside books with pages cut out, inside the trash can, and under loose floorboards among other places.
- Your child's room is a sacred domain to him, and having privacy here helps him learn to set boundaries with others. That's why snooping around in your child's bedroom should be done as alast resort— when signs have pointed to there being something amiss, or when you have clearly found evidence.
Check their computer and/or phone.As a part of your search, you might want to do a cursory glance at any electronic devices your child uses. Look through your child's tablet, laptop, and/or cell phone.
- Be on the lookout for any social media apps that you have not given your child permission to use in addition to messenger apps. Your child could be communicating with people who are posing as teenagers and are in fact child predators.
- Be very wary if your child has many password-protected apps. Furthermore, if your child is adamant about not handing over passwords, this might be an indication that she is hiding something in her phone or computer. You may have to install monitoring apps on these devices to keep a closer eye on your child's usage.
- Certain apps are now being designed to help conceal photos, videos, messages, and other apps that your child does not want you to see. These include Vaulty and Hide It Pro. Stay on top of new apps such as these and beware if you find them in your child's phone.
Having a Productive Conversation
Be straightforward and explain the need to search.Tell your child your reasons for searching his room and be upfront if you found any questionable evidence.Don't try to set him up in a lie by asking if he is doing anything wrong; he will probably lie to protect himself. If you found unsettling evidence, present it to your child in a straightforward manner and ask him to explain it.
- For example, you might say, "You have recently been being very secretive and staying out late. I searched your room because I wanted to make sure you are not involved in anything that can be harmful to you or others. During the search, I found this... Can you explain why you have it?"
- When you follow this method, the practice is upfront and honest and your child understands that it is happening as a result of his own actions.
Know the tell-tale signs of a lie.If you suspect that your child is lying, explain to her that lying is unacceptable and outline the repercussions (e.g. loss of privileges).Here's how to spot a lie:
- Surprised expression (i.e. raised eyebrows, open mouth or dropped jaw horizontal wrinkles across forehead, etc.) when a certain subject is broached or question is asked.
- Fearful expression (i.e. open mouth with tension, brows drawn together, raised upper lid, but tense lower lid, etc.) when a certain subject is broached or question is asked.
- Relief when the subject is changed.
- Answers that sound rehearsed.
- Answers that dodge the initial question.
- Answer that give a surplus of detail to fill the silence.
- Discrepancies in how she says she feels versus her facial expression and body language.
Use the time that your child is talking to learn as much as you can.Then, if you must go back to something she discussed, frame it as a nonjudgmental question that is seeking for understanding rather than a nagging statement.
- For example, "You mentioned Randy may be using drugs. What is your opinion on that?"
- Asking your kid a question helps you to determine his frame of mind without doing unnecessary nagging that causes him to shut down. This also gives your child the opportunity to show that he is capable of making responsible decisions or reading dangerous situations.
QuestionWhat if it is about her crush?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerKids deserve to have some secrets that you don't know about. This would be one of those secrets. If she wants to tell you about her crush, let her, but don't pressure her to do so.Thanks!
QuestionI'm an older female teen, and my younger sister has been doing some private things. She has passwords for all her devices. What should I do to keep her safe?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerTrust her and leave her be. Don't you remember being that age and wanting privacy? Respect her wish for privacy and trust that she's not doing anything bad. If you notice anything specific that you find strange or worrisome, bring it up with your parents, and suggest they put parental controls on her devices.Thanks!
QuestionWhat if my child is reading inappropriate stuff for her age? I have caught her doing it before.Community AnswerExplain to her that it is inappropriate for her and take away the book.Thanks!
- If your child is innocent, and learns that you are searching his/her belongings, there will be a definite breach of trust. Be sure you have solid evidence before making an accusation or commencing a search.
- Do not make up excuses if you are confronted. Just admit that you went through his or her things.
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