The transition between childhood and adulthood involves a variety of challenges. Navigating this critical metamorphosis requires a degree of trust between parents and teenagers. Trust doesn’t just happen, however -- it takes effort to develop. Teens can build and develop trust with parents in several key ways that keep lines of communication open and working.
1. Trust Overview
All relationships require some degree of trust to flourish. In a parent-teen relationship, trust goes both ways, with the goal being both parties exhibiting trustworthy behavior, advises the Aspen Education Group. When either party meets the other party’s expectation, both trust and respect increase. If either party fails to meet the other’s expectation, trust decreases and the relationship suffers.
2. Building Trust
Building trust occurs gradually as people keep behaviors and actions within expectations and requirements. A teenager can earn trust from parents by following rules, acting respectfully, communicating openly, exhibiting sound judgment and controlling impulses. As a teenager earns trust, parents might extend additional privileges, which can motivate the teenager to continue building more trust, according to the Center for Parenting Education.
Regular and open communication is instrumental for building trust, according to a 2013 article for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. When parents are available every day for teenagers, encouraging and inviting communication, teenagers have the opportunity to talk and confide in parents. Parents should listen actively, resisting the urge to judge or criticize, to help teenagers feel safe and secure in confiding. Open communication builds trust and mutual respect.
Building trust requires honesty between parents and teenagers and parents can set the stage for making it safe for teenagers to be honest, according to psychologist Seth Meyers, writing at PsychologyToday.com. Parents can communicate their unwavering support and commitment to a teenager by urging him to always be honest. The second part of this statement is to assure the teenager that honesty will never result in punishment as long as the teen communicates honestly.
Because trust is not static, it requires continual monitoring to ensure that the teenager continues to behave in a trustworthy manner. As circumstances arise, a parent should assess the factors to determine the appropriate level of trust to extend, based on past behavior. As a teenager builds trust, parents can extend more trust. If a teenager falters and struggles, parents might rescind trust until the teenager rebuilds it again.
- Aspen Education Group: Five Steps to Rebuilding Trust Between Parents and Teens
- The Center for Parenting Education: Riding the Waves of the Teen Years: When Your Teen Breaks Your Trust
- Alabama Cooperative Extension: Communicating With Your Teen: Trust
- Psychology Today: How Parents Can Protect Teenagers, Keep Them Safe, Trust
- BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images