Teenagers wake up every morning – no longer children and yet, not fully acknowledged as adults. They are desperately searching for their independence and trying to establish themselves as individuals. As parents, we worry if they will turn out alright and worry about all the outside influences that they experience. As adults, we try to hold on tighter, make more rules and hope that we can trust our teens as much as we want them to trust us. Remember these guidelines when building trust with your teen:
Treat a teen as individual being. Allow him/her experience consequences of their decisions. They need to go through life mistakes and lessons on their own to establish their abilities to solve problems!
Do you like it when your friends force you to go to the gym if you are not in the mood to work out? How about when they push you to go meet that friend you cannot stand? Be aware of doing that to your teen – compromise on that dinner they choose not to attend, explain why they need to come to a family meeting or take a phone call from their uncle, whom they barely communicate with. Do not just throw down your authority, as you wouldn’t appreciate it done to you either!
When your teen decided to come to talk to you – be the ‘choice-less observer’. They do not come to you to ask for judgment, lecture, or punishment. In fact, those often ‘natural’ responses from adults are what will stop all communication for a while. Most of the time teens just want you to listen. The best way to respond, “What would you like to me do for you?” or “May I suggest something?” They will let you know. And if they answer, “Nothing!” – respect their choice!
As parents, we worry. But making more rules and stricter curfews almost always guarantees more rebellions. Treat your teen’s room as his/her sanctuary; do ask for permission to use his/her things; ask for approval to share his/her problems with other people. Do not stock their social media – to be honest, they are often way savvier with it than you are!
Remember, “trust is a choice – we roll out of bed and send each other into the world, hoping that we’ve got each other’s backs!”