It’s easy to say “trust your kids,” but the truth is, there is a lot more to parenting than trusting and hoping it all goes well. Even honest children do boneheaded things. Remember that a human’s frontal lobes don’t close fully until after they turn 21 to 25 years old. That means that a teenager will make bad choices no matter how smart they are or how good they are. Knowing that, here are some ways you can find out more about what your child is doing.
Bring Family Dinner Back
The more time you spend with your kids, the more you’re going to know about them. Instituting family dinner nights as many times during the week as possible opens communication in a relaxed environment. You and your child will get to know each other more, and the more you know, the closer you’ll be. Your child is less likely to hide things from you if you have open communication.
Go to Your Child’s PTA Meetings
Any type of meetings your child’s school, teacher, clubs and so forth have, you should attend. If your child can participate with you, they should go with you too. Make it a fun night out instead of something to dread.
Monitor Their Online Activity
Use software to monitor your child’s online activity. Knowing their search history can sometimes help you determine things that are bothering them right now. For example, if your child looks up information about sex abuse, drugs, and so forth, you may want to talk to them about those topics.
Use Ratings for Online Games as a Guide
Maybe your child loves playing games online, and that’s great. There are many benefits to gaming that will pay off later for them. However, there are also drawbacks. You can avoid many of them by paying attention to the ratings and rankings of the games.
Look at Your Child’s Internet Search History
Your child can delete their search history but they cannot remove the history your router uses. All you need to do is look at the logs kept, and you can find out all the sites anyone in your home using your IP address visited.
Use Parental Controls for All Internet Connected Devices – Most devices today, like smartphones, offer the option to use parental controls. Not only should you use them, but you should also let your child know that you are using them. There is never a reason to lie about searching their online usage or monitoring their whereabouts. It’s your right as a parent.
Get to Know Your Child’s Friends
Knowing who your child hangs out with is an excellent way to know what they are like when you aren’t around. Other people’s kids often reveal parts of themselves to other adults, not their own parents, and that can give you that insight. If your child’s friend does or says something that disturbs you, check up in a non-confrontational way.
Talk to Them
There is also nothing wrong with asking your child outright about anything you are concerned about. If you read an article about something kids are doing that you aren’t thrilled with, bring it up and ask them what they think.
If your child loves playing a particular game, learn to play it too. If your child likes reading certain books, read them also. That’s the only real way to put yourself in their shoes and try to get to know them better.
The main thing about finding out what your child is doing is simply allowing them permission to be who they are without judgment. That way, they will be themself around you, and you can demonstrate the type of behavior you want them to display. That’s what they listen to more anyway. Your example is everything.