By Owen Sawyer, MA Intern
Adolescence can be a confusing time for your teen as they are figuring out who they are as an individual. This process can be difficult for them and also for you as the parent. Trust is critical during this stage; trusting your adolescent to make the right decisions, but also the adolescent trusting you as the parent to give appropriate autonomy to them as they are growing more independent. There are many concerns presented during this stage including you as the parent wanting to support your teen in making friends, the concern around the friends they are making, and wanting them to have enough friends in life (Reachout, 2022).
There are important areas to highlight when helping your child create positive and healthy relationships in life. These are a few ways to foster openness and trust with your teen.
Talk about the value of honesty in relationships
Help ensure they can feel like themselves and be relaxed in the process
Tell them the truth and listen to theirs with no judgment
Let them experience the process of making friends with little to no pressure, not blaming them, which will help decrease anxiety.
Highlight good qualities in their peers
When observing their peers displaying positive values in relationships, point them out and explain why they are positive values and how they can benefit their own character development.
Support your teen and how they like to socialize with peers
Some people are more extroverted and social, while others can be more introverted and keep to themselves. Encourage your teen that there is no right or wrong thing to be interested in and normalize that their own interests are what makes them unique and themselves.
As a parent there will be situations where maybe you worry more than usual about who they are hanging out with and what they are doing. This comes down to trust between yourself and your teenager. For adolescents, knowing their parents trust them can deepen their sense of safety in the world. Supporting their self-esteem and confidence as they try new things, while also assuring them they have someone to go to when things don’t go according to plan. As the parent, having a trusting relationship with your child means you’re more likely to have an open dialogue and a strong relationship. (Boys and Girls Clubs, 2022)
There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to being a parent, but there are helpful techniques in creating this trusting relationship. These are some tips that can help build that relationship:
Asking open ended questions
This can help the adolescent have more of an open dialogue and make them feel more comfortable about sharing their interests and experiences.
Give them specific encouragement
Share similar experiences you had as a teenager and in order to relate to them. Remind your child they are not alone in the process even if you cannot understand what they are feeling entirely.
Validate their emotions and show them how important what they have to say is. Honor that you appreciate they are willing to share with you.
In good and bad times, be there for them and be on their side
If you feel unsure how to improve communication with your child and you’re seeking help with the process, individual or family therapy is a great way to start! Please contact us today to set up an appointment.
7 ways to help your teen strengthen their friendships. ReachOut Parents. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/things-to-try-peer- pressure/help-your-teenager-make-great-friends
Ways to build trust between parents and teens. Boys & Girls Clubs of America - Providing millions of kids and teens a safe place to develop essential skills, make lasting connections and have fun. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.bgca.org/news-stories/2022/June/ways-to-build-trust-between-parents-and-teens