Every parent needs to be a good detective. As explained in my newest book Discipline Exposed, for every action there is a re-action. In order to help our children we must find unique ways to discover "why" our children are re-acting negatively. If we can't find the true cause for negative behavior, it will fester and erupt at the worst time.
I encourage dads to cut out a star and place it in your wallet. Moms can purchase a cheap rhinestone star and wear it proudly on your jacket. We are detectives. In order to raise healthy children, we must be detectives. Like Columbo and the Monk, we must search for the tiniest clues and test every clue against the situation.
Pretend that a murder lurks in the future. All the clues are being presented at this moment in time. Your job is to evaluate the clues and stop the murder. Who is going to be murdered? It could be your child’s self-esteem. Maybe it’s their ability to get a job. Perhaps their faith or soul is in jeopardy. I hope it’s not your relationship with your child. Whatever it is, we must stop the murder. How? Let’s look at the five points of our detective star.
1. Any good detective will investigate the scene of the crime. In other words, always place yourself in your child’s world. Try to see what they see, live with their problems and view their friends.
I was counseling with a troubled teen and had a terrible time finding the source of the problem. Finally, I spent a day at the school. Watching her classmates and friends led me to the cause of her problems.
2. Watch body language. Nothing tells you more about your child’s inner feelings than body language. Watch their face, eyes and hands. Watch as they interact with others. Are they nervous, do they fidget?
Did you know that an abused child will use body language to tell an investigator who is doing the abuse? They are frightened to tell on the abuser so they usually sit in his/her lap. This way they assure the abuser that they are protecting them, but sub-consciously they are sending a message to the investigator – this is my abuser.
3. Make talking a comfortable experience. Remember how Detective Columbo reassured the killer. He was always nice and did all he could to make the killer comfortable. I’m not suggesting that we look at our children as killers, but we will get more information with acceptance than if we blurt out our suspicions.
4. Listen for tiny clues. Sometimes the smallest clue can be the most devastating. The human mind is like a detailed puzzle. Tiny bits of information can be tucked away in our memory cells and change our lives forever. Watch for the little ways our children tell us something is wrong.
A young teen was having a hard time at school. Her grades were plummeting. Her hygiene was suffering and her eating habits were changing. She was not on drugs and was somewhat popular. She was not being bullied and seemed content with school. A physical revealed she was healthy. Her parents were happily married and her home was safe. What could cause this drastic change?
Mom listened for every tiny clue. It took several months of making sure she heard every word the young teen said. One Saturday afternoon they were watching the Olympics. The teen expressed how much she liked sports. The conversation revealed that she believed she couldn't marry and have a good relationship if she was involved in sports. “Women who have great lives are feminine.” Mom was a very feminine woman but her daughter was better suited for sports.
This young teen was denying her purpose in life because she was afraid of failing at her future marriage. When mom explained that you could have both, the problem was resolved and she went on to be both feminine and successful at sports.
5. Check all related sources. Detectives don’t stop at the crime scene they look for motives, causes, weapons and accomplices. Anything your child touches, breathes, reads, listens to, participates in, talks with, learns from or brushes against has the potential to change his thinking. Never rule out anything.
As we become good detectives we will have the information to help our children succeed. Wear the star proudly. Don’t be a bumbling goof, earn the right to be a respected parenting “Columbo”.
God loves you,