If you suspect that your child is doing something he shouldn't, your responsibility as a parent is to protect him. Obviously, children and adolescents must be able to have age-appropriate freedom. However, it is also important to control them to keep them away from risky or dangerous situations. Learn to get to the bottom of it to determine if your child is hiding something.
Method 1 of 4: Watch for the signs that something is wrong
Step 1. Evaluate if he exhibits a different behavior
Teenagers need to invest a lot of energy to hide undesirable behavior from their parents. The more important the issue, the more likely there is a questionable pattern of behavior that points to wrongdoing. Ask yourself if your child exhibits any of the following behaviors:
- Do you have a sudden change in phone calls? Do you speak for a longer time and use a rather quiet tone of voice?
- Do you watch more television?
- Do you spend more time on the internet (possibly to talk to other people or search for certain secret topics)?
- Do you have new friends that you haven't met yet?
- Do you dress differently?
- Do you use new words or phrases?
- Does he manifest new interests (music, recreational activities, movies, etc.)?
- Are you more irritable?
- Do you roll your eyes?
- Does he beat himself up after talking to you?
- Do you constantly demand that they respect your privacy, when you used to not in the past?
Step 2. Evaluate the decline in past behaviors
As new behaviors emerge in a reserved child, it is also possible to observe a reduction in their normal behavior patterns. Maybe your son used to be very polite and now he insults whenever he can. Your child may no longer want to do the following:
- get good grades in school (loss of interest in academic achievement)
- participate or invest energy in extracurricular activities
- want to have dinner with the family
- eating the same amount of food as usual (indicator of a high level of stress or depression)
- sleep the same amount of time as always
- tell you where he has been
- talk or share the details of your daily routine openly
- spending time with family (maybe spending more time with friends or alone in your room)
- letting older or younger siblings into your room
- share their things (strange sign of possessiveness with certain objects)
Step 3. Stay in touch with the parents of your child's friends
A good idea is to make friends with the parents of your child's friends, and even with the parents of children who are not related to your child. This will allow you to keep up to date with things that are happening, as well as having access to a friend system to obtain information about your child and his friends.
Method 2 of 4: Establish healthy exchanges
Step 1. Show openness and willingness
It is important for your child to know that he can count on you whenever he needs to talk. As much as you may already know, it is always a good idea to remind them. However, do not do it after inspecting his room or questioning him. Convey your predisposition without pressing it.
- For example, you can simply say "I understand that you may be going through times of confusion or conflict. Growing up can be very difficult. However, keep in mind that you can always count on me and tell me anything you want, no matter how insignificant it may be.".
- When your child is able to open up to you, reinforce this behavior by stating, "I know it must have been difficult for you to discuss this with me. I appreciate your trust in telling me what is happening."
Step 2. Take care of your child
Parents often struggle to multitask, missing out on important conversations with their children. When your child decides to talk to you, be willing to listen.
- Control your non-verbal body language to make sure you convey openness (that is, do not cross your arms or legs), pay attention to their problems through eye contact and certain expressions that show that you are listening, such as by nodding head.
- If you do not pay attention to him when he wants to talk to you, he will interpret that his opinions or thoughts are not important to you. Therefore, it is very likely that he will decide to keep his concerns to himself and not share them with you in the future.
Step 3. Detect conversation opening topics
When your child has the need to talk to you, make sure you are available as soon as possible. As mentioned, body language can show disinterest in the things you want to share. The same is true if you overlook the opening topics of conversation.
- For example, if your teenage daughter comes home very upset, you may ask her what's wrong. If she starts to tell you that she has argued with her best friend, and you decide that she is just upset about a "teen drama", playing along or half listening to her, she may notice your behavior and not want to share her problems with you again..
- Even the most trivial conversations can be a way to connect and get closer to your child. If he feels like he can tell you about minor topics, chances are he is confident that he will be able to share more important things with you.
Method 3 of 4: Investigate Possible Cover-ups
Step 1. Check her room
As the adult and primary protector of your child, it is your duty to know what they are doing. You never know if you should take care of him for others or for himself. You may feel really bad about going into her room and going through her belongings. However, if you suspect that he is hiding something (and it is unlikely that he will confess), this may be the only way to discover the truth.
- If you decide to do so, look in your drawers (under and between the clothes), under the bed, among the notebooks, in the CD and DVD cases, in the backpacks or duffel bags, in the pockets of the clothes hanging on the closet, inside books with torn pages, inside trash can and under floorboards, among other places.
- Keep in mind that the bedroom is her sacred place, and her privacy allows her to learn to set boundaries with others. For this reason, this decision should be made as last resource, when all the signs indicate that something is wrong, or when you have found sufficient evidence.
Step 2. Check his computer and his cell phone
As part of your search, be sure to take a quick look at any electronic device it uses. Check your tablet, computer or cell phone.
- Pay attention to any social media apps that you are not allowed to use in addition to messaging apps. Your child may communicate with other people who pretend to be teenagers, but are actually child predators.
- Be very cautious if your child has a lot of password-protected apps. Also, if they flatly refuse to provide you with their passwords, this could be a sign that they are hiding something on their cell phone or computer. You may have to install monitoring apps on these devices to be more attentive to the things it does.
- Today, there are many applications designed to hide photos, videos, messages, and other applications that your child may not want you to see. Some of the best known applications are Vaulty and Hide It Pro. Try to be updated with the new applications and find out if your child has installed them on his cell phone.
Method 4 of 4: Have a Productive Conversation
Step 1. Be direct and explain the need to check his room
Tell him what the reasons were for searching through his things and be direct if you have found questionable evidence. Don't try to trick him by asking if he has done something wrong, as he is probably lying to protect himself. If you have found disturbing evidence, show them directly and ask them to clarify things for you.
- For example, you can say "You have been very reserved lately and have been going to bed very late. I have searched your room because I want to make sure that you are not doing something that could harm you or others. While searching, I have found this … Can you explain to me why you have this? "
- This direct and honest method will allow you to understand that what is happening is the result of your own actions.
Step 2. Look at the indicators of a possible lie
If you suspect that your child is lying, explain that this behavior is unacceptable, and clarify what the consequences are (that is, the loss of certain privileges). To know if he is lying, pay attention to the following indicators:
- Do you notice an expression of surprise (raised eyebrows, open mouth and horizontal wrinkles on the forehead) when approaching a certain topic or asking certain questions?
- Do you have a fearful expression (tightly open mouth, close-knit brows, raised upper eyelids and tense lower eyelids, etc.) when approaching a certain topic or asking certain questions?
- Are you relieved when you change the subject?
- Does he answer your questions as if he had previously rehearsed them?
- Are your answers evasive?
- Are you formulating answers that are too detailed to fill in the gaps?
- Do you have a discrepancy between what you say you feel and your facial expressions and body language?
Step 3. Avoid criticizing or reprimanding him
On some occasions, your child may mention details about himself or his friends without meaning to be alarming to you. Tell him immediately why what he said is wrong. Unless your child tells you things that could threaten his physical integrity, avoid scolding him. Instead, listen carefully to it.
Step 4. Learn as much as possible while talking to you
Then, if you need to pick up on a topic he brought up, ask a nonjudgmental question to better understand it, rather than scolding him.
- For example, you can say, "You said that Marcos might be using drugs. What do you think about it?"
- Asking him a question will help you get to know his perspective without unnecessarily scolding him, as this will only make him shut down and not want to talk to you. In addition, your child will have the possibility to demonstrate that he is a person capable of making responsible decisions or being able to detect dangerous situations.
- If your child is innocent and finds out that you have rummaged through his things, you may break his trust for good. Make sure you have solid evidence before charging him or conducting a search.
- If he confronts you, don't make excuses. Just admit that you've checked his stuff. After all, you are trying to teach no hide things, right?