How to Build a Trusting Relationship with Your Children

Building a trusting relationship with your children is a milestone is important. Children are usually generous and forgive many more mistakes than an adult would. However, you'll lose their trust entirely if you don't adhere to certain guidelines.
How to Build a Trusting Relationship with Your Children
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 28 July, 2022

Building a trusting relationship with your children is important, as this influences the impact you can have on them. Thus, gaining their trust, or regaining it if you lost it, is an essential step towards being able to help them.

The first difficulty in earning your children’s trust is related to its very definition. It isn’t about them telling you everything or being your friend. Instead, it’s about them perceiving that you’re someone they can count on and share what they need to share when they need to do so.

Trusting is about reaching agreements with one another and knowing each one will follow up on it. It’s about revealing sensitive information and knowing it won’t go beyond the boundaries of the relationship.

Thus, you have to start by being respectful in order to earn your children’s trust. You must remember they’re individuals with opinions of their own. You must also allow them to feel vulnerable and understand any problems they might have.

“The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we don’t love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we don’t love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

-Thomas Merton-

A man holding his daughter.

Respect is essential to a trusting relationship with your children

Parents and children have asymmetrical relationships. The former make the rules, guidelines, and final decisions. The latter should express themselves and have the right to express their objections and different points of view. However, they must obey their parents.

As you can imagine, it’s important for children to have a consistent authority figure. They don’t need a friend who puts themselves at their level but a role model and guide. As you can see, treating them as equals is negative. You must instill this at an early age, as it’ll be difficult to do so later on.

How does this help you earn your child’s trust? Well, a child expects their parents to be capable of steering the ship and trust what they’re doing, even if they make mistakes. It makes them feel safe and creates the foundation for them to trust themselves as well.

Time, attention, and reinforcement

A parent is only a guide, not a judge. Children appreciate their acceptance and recognize their effort and abilities. In fact, one of their greatest motivations is to earn this recognition. They should correct them lovingly and with the healthy intention of helping them improve. Chances are your children will respond positively if you do so.

It’s also important to dedicate quality time to them and promote enjoyable activities that can teach them something. Dialogue doesn’t have to take precedence in this shared time. In fact, the best way to get to know your child is to watch how they act, the decisions they make, and even some of the things they express. You don’t want to be like those parents who think shared time is a perfect moment for interrogating your children.

Respecting their privacy is a must for a trusting relationship

Being honest about your feelings is a good way to build a trusting relationship with your child. Of course, this isn’t about sharing your most intimate details as you would with someone your age. However, you can tell them how you feel, what you like, what you want, and what concerns you.

It’s important to have open communication with your child. Your children will surely want to keep some things to themselves, and that’s okay. They need to know you’re willing to listen when they want to talk and that they can count on you if they need you.

A father talking to his child.

Manage difficult moments wisely

Crises are great opportunities to build a trusting relationship with your children. But remember that your children can only trust someone who fulfills their commitments and keeps certain intimate things to themselves.

A parent who panics when faced with problems or who interrogates their children can lose the trust that took so long to build in a moment.

Children must feel they can count on their parents in difficult moments. This will make it easier for them to trust their parents and look up to them when they want answers to their doubts or concerns. In addition, they’ll consider them their role models.

In short, if you trace this path during childhood, they likely won’t distance themselves and get off track in their quest for autonomy during their teenage years. As you can see, the foundations of a healthy parent-child relationship and adolescence are laid early on.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Raimundi, M. J., Molina, M. F., Leibovich de Figueroa, N., & Schmidt, V. (2017). La comunicación entre padres e hijos: su influencia sobre el disfrute y el flow adolescente. Revista de psicología (Santiago), 26(2), 92-105.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.