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Building Trust: Encouraging Communication with Your Children

By Mormon.org
Teenagers hiking

Advice from the Experts

Spend any amount of time with a room full of teenagers and one thing is pretty clear: they know how to communicate. They talk and giggle (if they’re girls) and grunt and guffaw (if they’re boys) and talk a lot more. They really have a lot to say, and they aren’t afraid to say it.

But sometimes those same teenagers might feel a little out of reach to parents when it comes to effective communication. So how do we, as parents, really build trust and encourage communication with our kids? Here is what the experts—a room full of teenagers—have to say.

  • “Don’t ask awkward, pointed questions. They make us uncomfortable. We just want to talk.” Kids really do want to talk to their parents. But they don’t like to feel like they are put on the spot. So find some common ground, listen to them share their interests, and have a good laugh with them often. The answers to the important questions will come out as you keep talking.
  • “Put down your phone. We don’t like distractions.” Sorry, parents, but it’s true. We are guilty of getting lost in electronic devices too. So put them away and talk to your kids.
  • “We like one-on-one time. It makes us feel valued.” Parents can have a great impact on their kids, especially when they take the time to be with them individually. In those settings, kids will open up and share things they might not share in the bigger group.
  • “My mom leaves notes for me when she notices things I could improve on or things I’m doing well. It's very encouraging to see and also reminds me to improve every time I see them!” Communication doesn’t always have to be verbal. Sometimes written notes can really make a statement.
  • “Parents shouldn’t always be firm and blatant. A little sugar coating is nice.” In other words, be positive in your communication. Sometimes firm and blatant words might be required when communicating with kids, but they can be delivered with kindness.
  • “We like to talk in the car.” With the radio off, parents can take advantage of driving time to talk about the important things.
  • “Sometimes we don’t want to talk. We just want to be left alone.” Everyone needs a little space occasionally. And being a teenager can be tough. So respect those boundaries with your kids when they need them. If you do, they will open up when they are ready.
  • “Patience is very important in communication. That goes for both parents and teenagers.” In other words, take the time to understand each other.
  • “Tell us you love us and that we’re doing OK.” The best thing you can communicate to your kids is love. When they feel that love, through both your words and your actions, they will feel safe sharing their life with you.

Would you like to learn more about building trust with your children through effective communication? The gospel of Jesus Christ can show you how. Chat with a Mormon today to learn more.