Developing Trust With Your Teen

Reagan Fausett

Developing trust in relationships isn’t easy. It takes time, diligence, and understanding. But as hard as it might be, developing trust is essential for a healthy relationship between parents and teens. Maybe you feel like your efforts to build trust with your teen have been futile, but don’t give up—chances are you are making a difference even though you can’t see it.

Here are a few tips that can help you start developing trust in a relationship with your teen.

Listen and Support

A great way to show your teen that you care and they can trust you is by listening. And I don’t mean half-listening or listening long enough to give advice. I mean really listening. Try to understand what they’re saying from their perspective. 

Once you’ve heard and understood what they had to say, support and validate their feelings. Let them know that you’re grateful they shared with you and you want to help in any way you can. Give them your advice or opinion if they ask or accept your offering of it, but try to not give unsolicited advice. Sometimes they might just need someone to listen. Giving unsolicited advice might make them feel stupid and invalidate their feelings (especially if it consists of phrases like “you should have. . .” or “I would have. . .”). 

Follow Through

Being a parent is no easy task. With everything you’re expected to do, it’s inevitable that something slips through the cracks. But as much as you are able to, follow through with what you tell your kids. If you tell them you’re going to be at a performance or game, make it your first priority to be there. Or if you tell them they can do something after finishing their chores, don’t change your mind. 

Certainly there will be times that you won’t be able to make it all work, and if you end up not being able to do something you originally said you would, be sure to talk with your child about it. Help them understand why you weren’t able to follow through and how you’re going to make it up to them.  

Developing Trust Takes Two

Remember: developing trust is a two way street. You can’t expect your child to trust you if you don’t give them any of your trust. For instance, have you ever noticed something bothering your teen and asked what was wrong? Perhaps they were hesitant to open up and you said something along the lines of, “It’s ok. You can trust me.” But do they know that from your actions? 

Maybe you shared something with another person that your teen asked you to keep a secret. Though you might not have seen it as a big deal, they saw it as breaking their trust. And if they think you’ll do it again, they probably won’t be as free with what they share in the future. So make sure that you exhibit the same (or higher) levels of trust that you expect from your child. 

Developing trust in relationships is sometimes an uphill battle between parents and teens, but don’t give up hope. Developing trust in a relationship with your teen can be so rewarding. Just remember these tips and keep doing your best! You might even sit down and have a conversation with your teen about building trust. For more parenting tips and info, check out Troomi!