Caught Red-Handed

To be caught red-handed is to be caught with the evidence for all to see. It’s origins date back to 15th century Scotland, where it was used when describing a criminal caught with the victim’s blood on his hand.


I’ve been convicted.


I have a tendency to catch my children red-handed.


I am prone to catching them committing misdemeanors.


I seem to gravitate toward corrective action that magnifies their errors.


And perhaps that’s just the nature of the beast when you’re “training” 5 young children. 5 children ages 11 and under are learning, testing the waters, feeling their way through, collecting life experiences and many of the experiences come about through trial and error.


But God has gently whispered to me, you catch them red-handed, also catch them doing good.


At heart, I am an encourager. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. And that includes my children. I delight in seeing them reach their potential and cheering them along the way. But after I’ve reminded, nudged and motivated them to carry out the same chore day after day, well…that encouragement takes on a new shape. Gone are the words that affirm and here come the words that condemn.


But I’ve resolved to catch them doing good,


My children and I attended an annual American Indian Festival. My 9-year old Cub Scout, in uniform was completing one of his electives on   American Indian Life. While we were at the craft table my son noticed several young girls find a phone on the ground.  He got my attention and began telling me “Mommy these girls just found a phone on the ground”.  I lightly brushed it off, thinking he was just witnessing someone drop then pick up his or her own phone.  He told me again, “No Mommy that is not their phone.  I heard them say “Ooh look what I found.”  As he was relaying that information to me, the girls walked away.  Then we heard a woman standing next to us say “Where’s my phone?” My son asked her if she lost her phone and she said yes.  He said, “I saw the girls who took your phone.” He then led the woman across the campgrounds to point out the girls so the woman could retrieve her phone.  The woman was very grateful for his attentive eye and quick actions that led to her recovering her phone.


Here is a great example of an opportunity to catch him doing good. I almost missed it though, ready to brush his observation aside. It all happened so quickly and I was “busy” managing my other children, I almost let this opportunity slip me by. But God’s gentle nudge came and said LISTEN to him. And my son was right. What a great chance to catch him doing good. I commended him on his attentiveness and shared it with his extended family and Scout Den Leader.


Love hopes for the best and believes the best. So even when what they are doing is contrary to what I expect, I still hope for and believe the best about them. Instead of being so quick to highlight flaws, I will affirm the character I expect to see.


So instead of just telling my 11 year old “You’re slacking on those dishes. I KNOW you see them in the sink. Why do I have to ask you to do your job?”; I will reframe. I will affirm her for the significant role her job plays since our kitchen is the central nervous system of our home. I will catch her doing good. When she completes the chore proactively I will not say, “It’s about time”. I will acknowledge her for demonstrating responsibility. Instead of allowing one of my children to pick on another because she is sensitive, I will affirm the sensitive child for being compassionate and for demonstrating gentleness.


Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.

 1 Thessalonians 5:11


I will be an Intentional Encourager.


In Priscilla Shirer’s book The Resolution for Women, she admonishes mothers to be intentional encouragers. Shirer states, “She [the mother] doesn’t overlook their immaturity, mistakes and mishaps; but when she brings these points up, there isn’t a general air of disapproval and low expectation. She chooses rather to temper her honesty with the grace of edification and encouragement.”


Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful,

so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Ephesians 4:29


Just like I caught my 4-year old messing around in the kitchen.  When I heard all the tinkering I thought he was sneaking some snacks. I stormed into the kitchen ready to discipline him. What I found was that he made a fruit salad for himself and his little brother.  I’m so grateful God shifted me quickly from catching red-handed to catching doing good.


Be encouraged parents. Being a mother is certainly one of the hardest job’s I’ve ever done. But God gives grace and wisdom and is patient with me as I’m learning on the job. And He extends that grace and patience to you and your children as well.


With school out and summer break in full swing, I will have plenty of opportunities to catch them red-handed but I’m determined to catch them doing good.


Do you hope for and believe the best about your children?


Do you purposefully acknowledge their efforts and catch them doing good?


For more on acknowledging character, CLICK HERE for Character First’s list of character qualities.


As always, it is my prayer that you’ve been Inspired To Live Fully!


(PS-For all the grammarians that are cringing at the phrase “doing good”, I know you’d like it to read “doing well”. “Catch them doing good” is what’s been ringing in my spirit so even for the sake of grammar I couldn’t change it. I had to write it the way God gave it to me. In fact, I would have been bothered by it too as I have a degree in Journalism but I write what the Lord tells me to write Insert Smile 🙂
Happy to connect with these friends spreading the good news Purposeful Faith, #WordsWithWinter, #LifeGivingLinkup, Mommy Moments

3 replies
  1. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    That would make a fun game to do with the family — catching red-handed, the good in others. 🙂
    Well said, Tyra.
    Visiting you today from the Intentional Tuesday Linkup.
    Thanks for sharing. 🙂


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