Teaching teenagers about trust
Trust is the foundation upon which all healthy relationships are built. As your child grows into a teenager, it’s crucial to help them develop trust with themselves and with you.
Trust is part of a child’s life, particularly when it comes to feeling safe with their parents, but it grows in importance as your child begins to move through their teenage years. Teenagers need to understand trust so that they can develop real and healthy relationships with their peers. In order for them to gain these skills, they need to be taught and practiced first at home. This will provide a safe environment for mistakes to be made and to understand what trust looks like.
Trust starts at home
One of the best places to start is by ensuring that your teen feels that they are a valued member of the family and that they’re part of the conversation at home. It helps to engage with them regularly about what their interests are, who their friends are and what they’re like, and what their dreams and goals are. They should feel comfortable being themselves without being judged for it. This doesn’t mean that they can’t be held to high standards!
Communication is the key
If your teen does anything to strengthen your trust in them, such as staying true to their word or being reliable, you should let them know that you see it and praise it. Alternatively, if they do something that is a breach of your trust, there should be a conversation around it. This is not a time to get angry with them or do anything that will make them shut down. This is a time to communicate and learn. Firstly, you can tell them that you’re unhappy with their decision and explain why. Secondly, you can ask them why they made the decisions that they did. Finally, both of you can discuss what would be a better course of action in future to keep all parties happy and to maintain trust. A very common example is when teens stay out later than allowed and don’t tell you. Chat to them about how this is inappropriate and in future, if they’re going to be out later than discussed, to contact you about it so that the two of you can come to an agreement.
Being a trustworthy parent
It’s just as important to show your teen that they can trust you. If they come to you with personal issues, problems at school or with friends, it’s vital that you don’t share this information with anyone without their permission. If you go behind their back and discuss it, they may feel that this damages their trust and not confide in you in future. So treat your teen with respect, show them that they can rely on you. If you do this right, it will form a strong connection between the two of you. Parents and teens who have a strong trust bond are much more likely to stay close and grow closer throughout the potentially difficult teenage period.