The teen years are some of the most formative years in every person’s life. This is the time when a person begins the transition from being a child into an adult. For parents, this may be a time you start contemplating purchasing that Wine of the Month club membership due to the roller coaster affect your teenager is bringing to all of your lives. With all the drama and changes that happen when our kids are in their teen years, one thing that is tough to deal with is when you’ve lost trust with your teenager.
Anger may present itself first when you discover that your teen has done something (or not done something) to make that trust crumble. But, that is not the core emotion you’re feeling. Disappointment is the real culprit and anger is the manifestation of that. While anger will be there, don’t let it rule your actions or cloud your judgment. Step away to a more private location in order to vent your spleen. Go to a place where your teenager is not located so he or she not the direct target of your raw emotion. This anger serves a purpose to express your disappointment, but it’s far from being a constructive tool in order to fix the issue.
After cooling your jets, go back to your teen and sit with him to talk. No, not standing over him and speaking down to him, both physically and metaphorically. Get on the same level with him to speak with him. This is not the time to shame your son or daughter. This is a window of opportunity to help guide him into making a decision that will mold and shape him into a better person – a better adult.
Speak frankly with him regarding your disappointment. It won’t do either of you any good to sugar coat that, but keep your anger in check as much as possible. Explain the “why” behind your disappointment in a manner that allows him to gain a deeper understanding as to the impact of his actions and how that affects others.
After you have said your piece, shut up. Yep, that’s right. Stop talking. Now is the time to listen and observe your teenager. Ask a question or two about wanting to know the “why” behind their choice and then just listen. Don’t just hear enough of what he says in order to form your next accusatory argument. Truly listen to what he is saying and even what they may be trying to say but are afraid to do so.
This is the moment in time where your teenager either learns to grow into a better person, or learns to simply not get caught next time. You are the one guiding this interaction, so the ball is in your court as to which lesson is the primary focus. Making this connection is crucial to the process of rebuilding the trust between you both!
Work together to create a game plan to fix what has been broken. This is how you want your teenager – an adult in the making – to learn how to both avoid having this happen in his future and how to address this issue when it happens in his life again with other people. Trust may be fragile at the moment between the two of you, but it is not beyond repair. The key is how you choose to react to the situation and which path you walk in order to address it and find a solution together that rebuilds instead of continuing to destroy. The only genuine way to regain trust with your teenager at a time like this is to give him or her the opportunity and tools to rebuild it with understanding and their integrity intact.
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