Building trust with young people

Trust is an important part of relationships. As your son or daughter gets older and starts becoming more independent, striking the balance between a young person’s need for independence and privacy, and your need to know what’s going on with them can be tricky.

Paper people

You can still be involved in their life through building a trusting relationship.

Why is building trust important?

Young people need their parents’ trust to help their transition through to adulthood. Trust needs to be mutual in the parent/child relationship.

A relationship without trust leads to second-guessing and questioning each other’s honesty. When your children are young they probably trust you unconditionally, as the person who keeps them safe.

But, as children grow up and become more independent, they start to notice more, querying what they observe and question your authority.

This is when they may notice whether you do what you say, or whether you contradict yourself. Keeping your word can be a crucial building block in a trusting relationship, also where ‘modeling’ certain types of behaviour comes in.

Trust strengthens relationships

Trust is a gradual process requiring mutual commitment and cannot just be demanded. Mutual trust will inevitably strengthen your relationship, while also help your son or daughter develop healthy relationships.

Personal space becomes increasingly important for young people in their teens and early twenties. The need for privacy isn’t always an indication of untrustworthy acts, so keep that in mind.

The difference trust makes in a relationship

Building a trusting relationship with your son or daughter has many benefits.

  • They will be open and comfortable to talk to you about difficult things
  • A trusting parent/child relationship will set them up for positive relationships into adulthood
  • It will strengthen your bond for years to come.

What if my child breaches my trust?

When your son or daughter starts to push boundaries set for them and tests their independence, breaches of trust are going to happen.

Having said that, young people we’ve spoken to want boundaries. Decide on appropriate consequences together. These can range from a simple chat about your expectations, to removal of privileges while they demonstrate that they can rebuild trust.

The parent role model

As a parent, you’re the most important role model to your children, even if you don’t feel it, when they’re in their teens and early twenties.

Talk to them about the importance of honesty and trust, making sure it’s reflected in your actions and that this is how you expect them to behave.

If they repeatedly break your trust without showing any sign of remorse, or if they show self-destructive behaviours, it might be time to seek help from a professional, such as a counsellor or psychologist.

Consider making connections with other parents local to you, to reliably stay informed about your son or daughter’s activities.

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