What to do and say to build trust with teenagers

Building trust with teenagers can be a delicate but important process. Teenagers are at a stage of development where they are seeking more independence while still needing guidance and support. Establishing trust with them can foster open communication and a healthy relationship. Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Active Listening:
    Take the time to listen to their thoughts, concerns, and opinions without judgment. Show genuine interest in what they have to say, even if you don’t always agree. This helps them feel valued and understood.
  • Respect Their Independence:
    While setting boundaries is essential, allow them to make some decisions and take responsibility for their choices. This demonstrates that you trust their judgment and are willing to let them grow.
  • Open Communication:
    Create an environment where they feel comfortable discussing their feelings and problems. Be available for conversations without interrupting or lecturing. Ask open-ended questions to encourage them to share more.
  • Be Honest and Transparent:
    Teens appreciate honesty. If you make a mistake, admit it and apologize. Being transparent about your own experiences can help them relate to you and feel more comfortable sharing their own struggles.
  • Empathy:
    Understand that their challenges and emotions might differ from yours. Show empathy and try to see things from their perspective, even if it’s difficult.
  • Respect Their Privacy:
    Give them space and respect their privacy. Knock before entering their room, and avoid reading their personal messages or diaries unless you have a valid reason to do so.
  • Consistency:
    Be consistent in your behavior and expectations. This helps them understand your boundaries and builds a sense of reliability.
  • Support Their Interests:
    Show interest in their hobbies, activities, and passions. Attend their events, games, or performances to demonstrate your support.
  • Avoid Overreacting:
    When they make mistakes or encounter challenges, avoid overreacting. Instead, help them learn from their experiences and make constructive suggestions.
  • Lead by Example:
    Demonstrate the qualities and behaviors you want them to adopt. Show them how to handle challenges, conflicts, and responsibilities in a mature and respectful manner.
  • Give Responsibility:
     Assign age-appropriate responsibilities that show you trust them to handle tasks independently. This can help them feel capable and respected. 

Gaining a teenager’s trust involves open communication, understanding, and respect. Here’s what you might say to your teenager to help build that trust:

  • Express Interest:
    “I really want to know how you’re feeling and what’s going on in your life. If you’re comfortable, I’m here to listen.”
  • Empathize:
    “I understand that being a teenager can be challenging. I went through similar experiences when I was your age.”
  • Apologize When Necessary:
    “I’m sorry if I reacted in a way that upset you. I’m still learning too, and I want to work on how I handle situations.”
  • Share Your Own Experiences:
    “I remember when I was your age, I faced something similar. It’s not always easy, but talking about it might help.”
  • Respect Their Space:
    “I respect your privacy. If you need space, just let me know. I’m here whenever you’re ready to talk.”
  • Offer Help:
    “If you ever need advice or just someone to bounce ideas off of, I’m here to offer guidance.”
  • Celebrate Their Successes:
    “I’m really proud of how you handled that situation. Your efforts and growth are important to me.”
  • Acknowledge Their Feelings:
    “I can see that you’re upset. Your feelings are valid, and I’m here to support you.” 
  • Ask for Their Opinion:
    “What do you think about [topic]? Your opinion matters to me, and I’d love to hear what you have to say.”
  • Be Transparent:
    “I want you to know that I’m not perfect. If I make a mistake, I’ll own up to it and learn from it.”
  • Avoid Judgement:
    “I won’t judge you for your thoughts or mistakes. We’re all learning, and I’m here to help you through it.”
  • Offer Help Without Pressure:
    “If you’re facing a challenge and would like some advice, I’m here. But remember, you’re in control of your decisions.”
  • Share Your Trust:
    “I trust you to make good decisions. If you’re unsure, don’t hesitate to come to me for guidance.”
  • Reiterate Your Love and Support:
    “I want you to know that I love you no matter what. My goal is to support and guide you through life’s ups and downs.”
  • Be Patient:
    “Building trust takes time, and I’m committed to earning your trust through our conversations and experiences together.” 

Remember, gaining trust is an ongoing process. It’s about creating a safe and nonjudgmental environment where your teenager feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences with you. Consistent effort and understanding will help strengthen your relationship over time. The goal is to create an environment of mutual respect and understanding that supports their growth into responsible and confident adults.

Dr. Yaro Garcia

Hello, I am Dr. Garcia, please call me Yaro. My degrees are in clinical psychology and I am a licensed mental health counselor. My approach is caring, warm, safe, non-judgmental, and straight forward. It is a difficult decision to seek therapy, I take time to build a trusting therapeutic relationship with you…