Successful Step-Parenting – Building Trust

“Trust Me”, this is something that you say to your step-child constantly. You know that you can be trusted, but how do they? If they have come from a family where their parents were recently divorced, then they are going to have issues trusting another adult that is now in the spot that once was occupied by their mother or father. Even if their mother or father is still present in their life, they are going to have feelings of resentment towards the person that is now with their parent. Building trust is something that is going to take time and effort. How much time and effort it takes is going to usually depend on the age of the child.

1)Building Trust with Younger Children

Younger kids are more prone to trust an adult than older ones. A child under the age of 6 is quicker to give you blind trust. It is important that you do not abuse the trust they do give you. Even though you are not the child’s parent, you are going to be a key person in their life in helping them develop who they are and what their morals are going to be. Young children will look up to you and expect you to show them how to make it through life.
To continue to get this trust from them, be there for them. Sometimes kids really need to be listened to. Be the ear that they need when they have problems at school or with playmates. Help them out of uncomfortable situations. These actions will help you build a long trusting relationship over the years to come.

2)Building Trust with Older Children

Once a child has reached the age of 7, they usually have started to form their own opinions about certain people in their life. They have had lots of time with their parents and don’t like change. From age 7 to their preteen years they have a lot on their mind. They want to make friends and be accepted by their peers. This is also the stage that they go through when they don’t want their parents, much less their step-parents, behind their every move. They want a little independence.
In this stage, you have to take time to learn about the kids before jumping in head first. Find out the things that they enjoy and when they have time, talk to them about it. Be generally interested in the things that they enjoy. If you see them having a hard time with something, offer to talk to them about it, or just be an ear. Many times kids just want to talk to someone about their problem however they don’t know who they can go to. However, don’t push the subject, this can make them move further from you, rather than become closer and trust you.

3)Building Trust with Teenagers

This is the hardest age to get a child to trust you. They understand more about the world and how things work than we as parents think they do. A new step-parent can seem like a huge intrusion into their world of high school, football games, band practice, or whatever else they may be into. At this stage in life, they usually don’t want to talk to their parents, so talking to you is definitely out of the question. Let them know once or twice that you are there if you need them, but don’t push the subject or they will close up even more because they will think you are being nosy.
The best way to get a child at this age to trust you is to show your support without directly causing them any possible embarrassment or stress. Give them a little room to be themselves and they will love you for it. The more your restrict them, the more they will resent you. Take time to get them the “cool new cd” even though you think its the worst music ever created. Give them that extra hour to hang out with friends. With teenagers, it’s all about give and take. Keep control of the situation, but allow them to blossom and you will find that they will trust you in a shorter period of time.