How to build trust with your teen

Parenting a teenager can be hard! Day in and day out you may not even recognize choices or actions your teen is making, and this can be concerning as well as frustrating.

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  • Parenting a teenager can be hard! Day in and day out you may not even recognize choices or actions your teen is making, and this can be concerning as well as frustrating.

  • If you are trying to build a relationship of trust with your teen there are three things you should try to avoid:

  • Arguments

  • While some arguments are unavoidable, if you find yourself arguing repeatedly with your child you should find a way to stop. Constant turmoil between you and your child will quickly destroy the trust you have. This trust is destroyed because you begin looking critically at the choices your teen makes and start pointing them out. In this situation, a teen will often rebel against the criticism or even hide behaviors so as not to face the argument that will ensue.

  • Instead, choose your battles

  • Let little issues slide and only engage on those that are most important. If you can begin to open the line of communication instead of the routines of arguments you will invite your teen to share information with you instead of hide it from you.

  • Ultimatums or threats

  • While it’s important to have rules in your home, they need to be established much earlier than the teenage years. Well established rules are much easier to enforce. If you are trying to add new rules to your household you need to do it with the support of your teen. Simply deciding on a new rule, stating it, and then using ultimatums to enforce it won’t work.

  • Children often respond negatively to ultimatums and threats

  • Using power to control your child might make them comply with the rule, but it will gradually destroy the line of trust between you. A child who has a new rule thrust on them without any conversation or explanation will be suspicious of your reasons and your goals.

  • Instead,

  • try using open conversation and reasoning. Include your child in making both rules and consequences and you’ll find you don’t need to resort to ultimatums or threats anymore.

  • Control or prying

  • One of the fastest ways to lose your child’s trust is to break theirs. You should be very respectful of your teen's own space.

    • If you have established their bedroom as their own space, you should never enter it when your child is not home to snoop or look for information.

    • You should always wait to be invited in.

    • If your child keeps a diary, you should not read it.

  • Building trust with your child is a two-way street that you need to respect as well as expect to have respected. By keeping these rules between you and your child you can begin to build a trusting relationship.

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  • Of course, it is important to note that there may be specific circumstances that require you to visit their personal space without permission. But these situations are dire and do not happen on a normal basis.

  • If you have built a relationship of communication and trust, hopefully, your teen will feel comfortable to turn to youinstead of from you.

  • Raising a teen is hard work, but if you are consistent in your treatment of them they will be consistent in their respect for you. Work with your teen and not at your teen to create an atmosphere of trust and harmony in your home.

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A. Lynn Scoresby, founder and president of My Family Track , First Answers , and Achievement Synchrony , and has been a marriage and family psychologist for more than 35 years. He has published more than 20 books and training programs.


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