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Study Identifies Traits that the Youth Look for when Trusting Adults

Update Date: Sep 18, 2013 04:19 PM EDT

For children and young adults, learning how to live in the real world is important. In order to learn the dynamics of life, the youth have to place their trust in an adult who is usually a parent or parents. However, not all adolescents have parental figures to follow. For these children, they must learn to trust new guardians. In a study, researchers wanted to examine the relationship between young people and the adults they grow to trust including parents. The study found that these young people look for specific traits before building a relationship with a trusted adult.

This study conducted by researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) examined relationships from six communities across Australia. The researchers found three key findings when it came to understanding these relationships. First, around 44 percent of the participants considered a family member or a family friend a trusted adult. Second, the researchers found that for the majority of the young participants, having a good relationship with an adult mattered. Third, the researchers noted that depending on the economic and social situation of the young adult, the types of conversations they had with their trusted adults varied greatly.

When it came to key traits, the researchers outlined four specific things that help build a relationship between young people and adults. First, young people reported that they must trust the adult before building any support relationship.  Second, young people looked for adults who talk to them as opposed to dictating to them. Third, young people cared a lot about how advice is given. The study found that young people want to be a part in the conversation and not the main subject. Lastly, the researchers found that young people needed to feel listened to and understood by the adult. This study is important because it gives parents and guardians the techniques to hold a good conversation with their young children and teenagers.

"Very few people identify school counselors as a trusted adult because they are doing what they expect of them, but there were cases where young adults would turn to their early childhood teacher for advice," associate professor and lead study author, Kristy Muir said according to Medical Xpress.

The study's findings will be presented at the 2013 Australian Social Policy Conference.

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