12 Simple Ways to Gain and Foster Your Tween’s Trust

Being a tween isn’t easy just ask them.

From 9 to 12 years old our kids begin the physically taxing and emotionally draining metamorphosis of child to adolescent. Not only are our kids facing the wonder, stress, and excitement that come from bodily changes; they’re overcome by something far less tangible and easily understood – their emotions.

To add parenting insult to tweenage injury, no longer are our preteens easily distracted or redirected in times of personal crisis. They tend to isolate themselves, seek the comfort of peers over parents, and struggle to make sense of their ever-changing reality.

Of all the things I haven’t figured out about this developmental stage, I do know this: nothing feels scarier than the idea of your child slipping away.

It’s undoubtedly challenging for parents to navigate the turbulent waters of this weird and wonderful stage. Try too hard and our kid pulls away. Don’t try hard enough and we’re misinterpreted as uninvolved. As we learn to walk the tightrope of complex preteen emotions, we strive to find balance in our role as respected authority figure and trusted ally.

At a time when our preteens need us more than ever, how do we gain, maintain, and foster our tween’s trust? Thankfully, it’s not as hard as we might think.

  • Trust makes all the difference 1 of 13

    Let's take a look at 12 ways to encourage and strengthen your tween's trust in YOU.

  • Respect them 2 of 13

    You might be thinking, "Kids need to respect their parents, not the other way around!" While you certainly wouldn't be the first parent to feel that way, the truth is that respect begets respect.


    And because respect is most certainly earned, treating your preteen like the older child they are - complete with responsibilities and privileges earned therein - will encourage trust and perpetuate mutual respect.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Connect with them 3 of 13

    Find small and meaningful ways to connect with your preteen every day.


    Whether you entertain their musical choices, learn more about their hobbies and interests, or go all out with a memorable parent-tween date, the time you spend connecting with your tween is an investment of the heart. Your preteen's trust grows ever stronger the more valued you make them feel.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Be honest 4 of 13

    We've all been in the position of wanting or needing to protect our child from the truth of a difficult or mature situation. While our natural instinct to shield our kid from unnecessary pain is admirable, we owe it to them to be age-appropriately honest whenever possible. The more our preteen understands their present reality, the better able we become as parents to help them navigate complex emotions.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Have a heart 5 of 13

    Maybe it feels like it's been 100 years since you were a preteen, but surely you have at least a vague memory of the confusion and drama of adolescence.


    Make compassion a habit when associating with your tween. Understand that your tween will sweat the small things, make mountains out of molehills, speak without thinking, and act ungrateful on occasion. While undesirable, these behaviors are age-appropriate and a part of growing up.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Listen to them 6 of 13

    Tender heart-to-heart moments rarely happen in real life the way they do in the movies. Our job as parents is to recognize and seize those magical small moments together. Attempt to listen without judgment, offer an encouraging nudge in the right direction, and stay positive in your exchanges.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Be trustworthy 7 of 13

    Are you the kind of person that other people put their faith in? Are you reliable? Do your friends and family depend on you? If the answer is yes, your preteen is likely to put their faith in you as well. Our kids are always observing how we interact with the world and how the world interacts with us. As a role model of integrity, you're showing your child that you deserve, respect, and honor their trust.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Respect their privacy 8 of 13

    As your adolescent's body and temperament begin to change, an increased level of privacy is often desired. For every personal privacy we're unable to allow in the name of responsible parenting, we can offer our children the courtesy of keeping their private lives private on our own social media accounts. If we want our tweens to respect and value their own privacy, we must first lead by example.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Show affection 9 of 13

    Your tween love-hate-loves it when you hold on tight and don't let go. So hug more, give high-fives and pats on the back, kiss that forehead, and hold their hand. Your preteen needs your love and affection more than ever; they're just too cool to ask for it.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Give solid advice 10 of 13
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    Your tween may never come to you with an after-school special sort of problem and ask for your advice, so this is where you'll have to get a little stealthy. In addition to keeping the lines of communication open with your preteen, find creative ways to stay involved. Make your house the "hangout" place, get to know your child's friends, and make friends with the parents of your child's friends.


    Keeping your finger on the pulse of your preteen will give you the inside edge you need to interject relevant pearls of parental wisdom to guide them down the right path.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Be patient 11 of 13

    Admit it, the heavy sighs and eye-rolls are enough to make you want to sell your tween to the highest bidder. When it all gets to be too much, take a deep breath, manage your expectations, and remember that this too shall pass. When your child witnesses your grace through patience, they'll be more likely to exhibit equally respectable behaviors when dealing with you.


    Image credit: Shutterstock

  • Keep your promises 12 of 13

    If only promises were as easy to keep as they are to make. Be slow to make promises and quick to make good on them. Our kids remember everything and there's no faster way to lose trust in a relationship than by breaking promises.


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  • Above all, just be there 13 of 13

    When we put our child first, they begin to understand their value. Honor your tween with your time and attention; there's simply no greater gift.


    Image credit: Shutterstock


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