Working with teenagers is my jam. Helping them figure themselves out and developing who they are is such an honor to be apart of. Throughout the last few years of working with teens, I have learned the importance of building trust when it comes to teens. It’s different for each teenager, but I have found a few similarities that they all want.
If you are a parent, youth minister, older sibling, or mentor, here are some ways to build trust with the teenagers in your life.
No judgment: Teens are walking around everyday worried about the way others are judging them. It’s not very often they get to hang with someone who let’s their ideas and thoughts be heard without fear of hearing how it’s wrong or being considered stupid. You may think differently or not agree with their thoughts or ideas, but it is so important to let them share their thoughts and ideas while you have an open mind. Hear them out, let them process with you, and share your disagreement in a non-judgmental way.
Time: It takes time to build trust with anyone and it is still true for teens. They are not always going to open up right away and often will need a few weeks to start to openly talk or trust you. Be patient, don’t rush, let time do its thing. If you take the pressure of the teens, they will build trust faster.
Honesty: You want the teen in your life to be honest with you, right? Then you need to be honest with them. If you can share your mistakes, failures, disappointments or embarrassments, they can too. Your worlds are different, you’ve lived in different time periods, but you have common themes. Be honest about your experiences and their impact on you.