Children are notoriously sneaky; be it by grabbing an extra piece of candy after you've told them not to, or pretending to have completed a list of chores when, in fact, there's a hidden pile of things stuffed in the closet. Deception may not always be easy to spot — especially if they're as clever as my two kids — but it's important to notice and become familiar with at least a few of the signs your kid is hiding something from you, before that thing they're hiding becomes dangerous (or, you know, pretty damn messy).
Once upon a time I made the decision to give my 5-year-old daughter a small laptop to play games on. At such a relatively young age, she needed a lot of help getting her new laptop set up and was never allowed to play outside of our presence. However, and as I've so aptly mentioned previously, the young ones know how to lie or hide or simply get around rules (even in plain sight). It wasn't until I glanced over and noticed a guilty expression on my daughter's face that I felt the need to I rush over to her and assess the situation. What I saw, well, I wasn't prepared for. My sweet angel had somehow figured out where the "chat" button was within the game she had been playing, and had been communicating with someone. While she didn't know how to spell a lot of words at that age, I immediately recognized "sexy," and yes, I hyperventilated a little.
That was the end of the laptop for many, many years. Drastic? Maybe, but this kind of thing can happen so fast, and it's hard to know when your kid has been given enough room (or simply just found a way) to cross a boundary they shouldn't have. Maybe my daughter knew better, and maybe she didn't, but her safety is my priority so bye-bye laptop and bye-bye any assumptions that my kid is too sweet to hide things from me.
After lengthy discussions about internet safety and why mommy was hyperventilating, my daughter seemingly learned her lesson (for the time being). With all the other things I've discovered since (and there's a lot), here are some of the signs your sneaky kid is hiding something from you. Live and learn by my mistakes, right? Ugh.
They Want More Alone Time Than Usual
My daughter didn't begin "hiding things" by separating herself from us. I mean, she was just a 5-year-old kid. However, in the years since, I've noticed one of the biggest warning signs alerting me to the fact that she's up to no good: detachment.
Very recently, I realized how often my (reformed) sweet angel had gone up to her room for a little quiet time. It's been five long years since the laptop incident so I had no reason to believe she was doing anything other than playing quietly with her American Girl dolls or reading one of the dozen chapter books she owns. Wrong. Once I connected her regular absences with our missing tablet, I felt like a complete idiot. What mother doesn't know what her child is looking at online? Me. Twice now, apparently. (This would be a great time to mention we've taken that away and set an ultra-complex passcode, just in case she outsmarts me again. Sigh.)
The Backtalk Becomes More Frequent
I'll be the first to admit, I'm a little sassy. OK — a lot sassy. I also admit that I'm the source of my daughter's fiery passion. So, it's safe to say I'm used to a little attitude at times because, in all honesty, it's just who we are. As long as she's polite and respectful, I'm OK with it.
However, once this feistiness changed into insults or just plain rudeness, I took notice and asked if something bigger might be going on. Turns out, there was. Her friends had made her cry at school and she was having a bad day. While this doesn't mean she's up to something or hiding things, the shift in demeanor forced me to pay more attention.
Major Rage Becomes The Norm
If my kids are raging, they've either eaten too much sugar, had too little of sleep, or are hiding something that's frustrating them in ways they can't understand or articulate. I know because, well, I think I act the same under the same circumstances.
When I've got a secret something on my mind and can't tell anyone, I might be prone to say, slamming cabinet doors or stomping off. As I said, it's a sass we're born with. #sorrynotsorry
You Realize You Have A Regular Pinocchio
Liar, liar, pants on fire? Yep. Obviously, if you realize your kid is lying about one thing, you'll probably follow the trail to the bigger, actual lie that's behind it.
In my daughter's case, it started with a simple, "I'm going to go rest in my room," and eventually, "I don't know where the tablet is." Playing detective is part of the parenting fun so, without probing too deeply, I searched through the house for clues and, lucky me, I eventually figured it out. Sherlock Holmes has nothing on me, you guys.
They May More Attention To Electronics And Apps
I sometimes long for a simpler life. One void of TVs, internet, phones, tablets, and, well, the list goes on and on. With all the gadgets available to children (and adults) these days, it's hard to make eye contact and have a real conversation anymore. Unfortunately, this is the time my kids are growing up in, so it's difficult if not completely impossible to avoid technology altogether. With all these privileges, it's hard to implement our house rules such as time-limits and being responsible online. My partner and I try to the best of our abilities, but at times, the electronics win.
If you notice your kid has become a slave to their phone or computer, maybe it's time to take your crown back (says the mother who keeps losing her crown).
They've Started Trying Out Risky Behavior
Oh, boy. As a worried mother already, I don't look forward to my daughter's teen years and hope she'll remember all the talks we've had about her past behavior and choices. I remember being a pre-teen and teen myself and I wouldn't say my choices were always the best.
I can only hope the most of her risky behavior is behind us. Yes, I say this with a totally straight face. If you've noticed a change in your child's activities — if they've gone from flower-picking to car theft — it might be time for a check-in.
When Your Kid Is Almost Unrecognizable
Remember that little nugget who used to pull on your pant leg? Me, neither. While the change didn't happen overnight, it did happen and will continue to happen. My babies are growing up! Ugh.
Appearance might not be a red flag things are being kept from me, but a sudden, drastic, change that completely alters a look your kid was previously happy and satisfied with, could be a tell-tale sign that something serious is being kept from you.
The Friend Squad Has Morphed
The whole friend squad might change a bit through the years but if your kid goes from one set of friends to a completely new set, it might be a sign they're into newer things and hiding something from you. Lately, my daughter's had a few less-than-stellar girls hanging around so naturally, I did what any mother would — spied on them to make sure they're not getting into trouble. I have no shame.
OK, seriously. If your kid shows any of the above signs, it doesn't have to mean they're hiding something from you but it doesn't mean they aren't, either. Take it from me and my hard-earned experiences: children are meticulous planners when it comes to potential deception. So again, learn from all the things I did wrong and don't let their secrets become your mistake. Especially if it involves the internet, YouTube, and the sex talk you should have had sooner. Sigh.