A solid foundation for any relationship is trust. In any relationship, trust is the glue that keeps two people together in spite of any conflicts they may encounter.
Trust manifests itself in various forms and the relationship you have with your child will be different with the relationship you will share with others.
“In my line of work, many parents express to me that they want to find ways to build or rebuild trust between them and their child,” says clinical psychologist Danni Zhang of New Vision Psychology.
“In some cases, families attend sessions together. Or individual parents come in to find ways to improve their communication with their children.”
As children transition into young adults, they will experience many changes both physically and mentally. Their desire for independence and privacy needs to be carefully balanced and trust is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship.
“The thing about trust in any relationship, and in particular in a family setting, is that trust cannot be demanded.” – Danni explains.
“It has to be earned. And just as easily, trust between two people can be lost.”
Some children and teenagers have difficulty trusting their parents. This can be due to fear of disappointing their parents, a history of poor communication, or a mixture of experiences that have lead them to feel a certain way about their relationship with their parents.
As a result, children lie and choose not to disclose all the facts to their parents. This in turn makes parents feel as though they cannot trust their children. When trust breaks down, so does the relationship.
Building trust takes time and it cannot be rushed. Here are 3 tips to strengthen your communication with your children so that trust remains healthy.
1. Be Honest
The most important ingredient in building trust in any relationship is honesty. By not lying to your kids, they will slowly start to gain confidence in you. Using actions and words to manipulate their behavior will place doubts in their mind, and this is how they will lose their trust in you.
Children are smart in knowing what is right and what is wrong, so in any case, do not try to hide the truth from them. A simple way to explain to them is by first acknowledging what they have discovered. If it is adult-level content, then you could tell them you are not at liberty to share the information as it is way above their age.
Do not brush them off with a lie as they will have doubts and lose their trust in you. Just explain it differently to them.
2. Listen to Your Child
Many parents will only hear their children but not actually listening to them. Don’t just assume things, understand fully the message your child is trying to put across. Also, know what they feel before coming up with any conclusion or being judgmental.
Notice their behavior and determine whether they are only interested in saying something to you, or it worries them a lot. Most of the time, the kid only needs you to listen to what they have to say and clear out things in their head.
3. Respect is Mutual
As the saying goes, respect is a two-way street. You ought to respect someone so that they accord you the same respect. However, many parents will forget this because they are the bosses to their children and this makes the child lose trust in you.
Set limits and rules in your house, but do it with empathy and in a respectful manner. This way, your kid learns to treat other people with respect, and they will be respected too. In the process, your child will trust you fully, and you will have a stronger bond.
For example, during dinner time, put your phone away. According to OPPO, 70 percent of people use their smartphone for work. If you are replying to emails whilst at the dinner table yet tell your children off for having too much screen time, your actions do not match with your words. That is, smartphones and screen time should not be made the enemy, but rather, model appropriate lifestyle habits should that you children can replicate them.
Ask any parent and they will tell you that bringing up a child is challenging at the best of times. Some children can be rude to their parents at a particular stage in their life. The reason could be attributed to the parent not developing a trusted relationship with their child at an early age.
You are advised to create and build trust with your children right when they are toddlers. As they grow up trusting you, they will never disrespect you even when they mature. Lastly, the main issue that breaks trust with children as a bonus point is the failure to honor promises.
Do not make promises to children if you cannot keep them. And when you make mistakes, own up to them and demonstrate that making mistakes is a part of life and should not be hidden.