8 tips to show your tween/teen trust without losing parental control
Middle and High School age kids are coming into the time in life where they want and need both independence and privacy. Being secretive and wanting privacy is not directly correlated to kids hiding something, but rather a byproduct of growing up. The need to know you trust them, but as their parent, you need to maintain parental control. Here are 8 tips to show your tween/teen trust without giving up parental control.
When your child starts a conversation, stop what you’re doing. Look at them directly and actively listen. This sends the message that you’re interested in what’s going on in their life. Listen without judgement or providing feedback unless asked for or if your child is in danger or putting someone else in danger. See my post about honest and open communication to get some guidance on how to open up your child.
Know their friends
Get to know your child’s friends, invite them over and give them privacy and space while they are at your house. This helps you keep in touch with your child’s friendships and relationships without always having to ask constantly about what is going on. Keep in communication with your child’s friends’ parents. This helps to create a safe environment across all the different homes for your child and their friends, and it will help you keep track of what they are doing without being on top of them all the time.
Set up some expectations about what you need to know as a parent when it comes to friends, school, electronic devices and general life while your child is young. Those expectations will carry over and through later years as they get older creating an easier transition for both of you. Clear expectations sets your child up for success.
Make time to spend as a family
Family dinners or other family group activities should happen as often as possible as they can create a positive opportunity for everyone in the family to talk about the day they’ve had and what’s coming up in their lives. With everyone sharing information, it feels less intrusive than calling your child out on an individual basis. The more time you spend together, the more involved you are, the more you can intercede as necessary and can know what you can trust your child with and what you cannot.
Stay in touch with their school and teachers
You can keep a general eye on school related items like progress, homework and deadlines without making your child feel micromanaged. This is fairly easy to do if you have a good relationship with your child’s school and teachers, but if you are not very involved in school parent things, you can still email or call the school to help with information.
Ground rules for unsupervised excursions
If you set ground rules up front about what your child can do in free and unsupervised time, you won’t have to constantly ask what they are up to. They know what they are allowed to do for each situation and outside of those things, they need to ask and receive a response before doing anything else.
Full Family Tracker App
Set up a family tracker app. Some show both your location and the child’s which makes it an even playing ground. If you do this very early on when they get a cell phone and explain it is for safety reasons in case they get lost or something worse, they won’t even question it as they get older.
Know what your child is looking
Be aware of what your child is reading, watching on TV and doing on their phone, computer or tablet. Keeping TVs and networked computers in shared areas of your home helps as well to know what your child is up to. Knowing their passwords is important for safety reasons, but also in the event they are forgotten, you have it as well for backup. I would lean on side of privacy, however, explain up front that you can and will look through their computer randomly to ensure that there is nothing that could cause them or their computer harm and that they are safe from predators. These are ground rules that should be set up at the time they receive their device, but if not, take slow steps to move in this transparent direction.