The definition of trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth or strength of someone or something.
Trust is a 2 way street. It is incredibly difficult to trust another person if they are not behaviourally or verbally reliable.
While your teen may trust that you will provide food, a home, education and clothes it does not end there.
Teens also need to trust that their parents will be available and react compassionately when they make a mistake.
It is vital that parents spend quality time with their teens and not pass them over for work or other responsibilities.
Teens need to have parents ask about what is going on in life and be genuinely interested.
They need mum and dad to keep their word.
They need to have family dinners together regularly where positive talk takes place and good stories are exchanged.
They need a safe home without constant hostility or arguments, and they need mom and dad to discipline behaviour that is out of hand and set up boundaries in the home environment. All these things demonstrate care and as a result build trust.
Many times, when teens do not get adequate attention from one or both parents, they misinterpret the behaviour as a lack of love. In order to regain some of that attention they will then engage in questionable behaviour that often elicits a response from mum or dad (or both).
After all, any kind of attention can be better than no attention.
Having trust is important, it is the major building block to any relationship. Trust solidifies the attachment between you and your child and it promotes compliance and reduces rebellion.
Show your teen that you are willing to trust them but if they break this trust, there will be consequences.
Here are simple tips to help improve the trust between you and your teen:
- Communication is the key: Communication is an important step to many things and this includes building trust. It is difficult to enhance your trust if you are not communicating your perspectives and what is going on in each other’s lives.
- Be a person of your word: Many times both parents and teens will make promises and then cancel due to lack of time, misbehaviour, other more appealing social activities etc. This is the easiest way to reduce trust in each other. Teens and parents need to honour their word to each other.
- Respect each other: Treating each other and speaking to each other (and about each other) with respect is important to building trust. It is difficult to develop a trusting relationship if you’re spoken to disrespectfully or if you overhear your parent (or your child) badmouthing you.
- Patience: Building a trusting relationship happens over time. It is easy for one wrong action to cancel out the last 7 good actions. At times you may feel like your relationship is progressing and at other times you may feel it is disintegrating. During these times, it is important you keep positive and hopeful and continue to build a trusting relationship. Your effort overtime will bring good results.
- Consistency: For a trusting relationship to develop there must be consistency (or reliability) in the relationship. The more often each of you demonstrates that you can be trusted, the more likely you will be trusted. Consistency strengthens every relationship.
- Make time as a family: Eating dinner together as a family several times a week creates a sense of togetherness and shared ritual. Communication during dinner is important. Have each family member share what they liked best about their day and what was challenging for them that day. This creates an environment of trust.
- Unconditional love: Showing unconditional love to your teen even when they have made a really bad choice, heals feelings and empowers self esteem.