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The TDSU approach is built on what we call the Trusted Team.  Your child’s first Trusted Team is YOU!  How do you build trust with your tween, both online and off?

The Trusted Team is built on a foundation of communication.  The key to open communication with your tween is TRUST.  While trust is of course a two way street, we want to focus on how you can foster a sense of trust with your child so that they will turn to you when it really matters, whether it’s online or off.

Things to keep in mind in order to establish trust with your tween:


When we take the time to really appreciate our children’s experiences, interests, ideas, motivations, and concerns, we are building trust.  By being curious we are more likely to ask interesting questions than to lecture. 

For example, if your child is spending a lot of time playing video games, instead of telling them to turn it off or lecturing them about screen time – be curious! What is the game called? Can you watch them play? What do they like so much about playing it?  What level have they achieved? 

By showing them that you are interested in their digital lives, you are deepening your connection with them, making it more likely that they will view you as an ally.  This will increase the likelihood that they will come to you if they have questions or concerns about what they are experiencing online.


When your child makes a mistake or “does something wrong,” they don’t need you to harp on how they “messed up.”  They know it already. 

You still need to restate expectations and boundaries and let natural consequences run their course.  However, instead of lecturing or being punitive, engage in the process of talking with them about what happened. This puts you in a better position to help them brainstorm ways of avoiding pitfalls in the future.

Be curious. Not judgmental.

– Anonymous

Establishing trust with your tween online:


Sure!  But NEVER comment.




Start out by giving them the benefit of the doubt.  This goes back to being supportive. You want to show your tween that you are on their team and open to what they have to say.  Your child’s mistakes do not reflect a deficiency in who they are, but rather show you where there is more room for growth and learning.

Ask questions. Don’t assume you know everything.  Take this as an opportunity to learn from and about your child. 

For example, perhaps something they posted made you uncomfortable but it is actually a pretty typical thing for someone their age to put online.  That doesn’t mean you have to approve – you can have a conversation about your family’s online values and what should and should not be put online. 

By remaining curious and open to your child’s thoughts you are more likely to engage them in a conversation and be able to effectively come to a resolution.

Don’t just follow your kids online.  Lead them.