Fostering Trust in Our Children

December 29, 2015

3 min read


Six ways to nurture this important characteristic in a world filled with mistrust and dishonesty.

The stability of effective commerce, happy marriages and healthy relationships all share the same foundation: trust. In a world filled with mistrust and dishonesty, how do we foster this important characteristic in our children?

Honesty is the best policy

“Lies, no matter how big or small, always crack or break the foundation of trust.” Print out this quote and hang it on your fridge. Parents need to be honest and tell it like it is. And be sure to follow up on your promises. Don't promise your kid that you'll get him that new hoverboard if he stops his tantrum at the store, because chances are, once the storm dies down, you'll regret your promise and will be left with one nasty mess to clean up after. It's not the best idea to reassure your kid that the foot-long needle at the dentist's office won't hurt a bit, because it will and he may learn doubt your reassurances.

Be genuine

Your child will have faith in what you stand for if he knows that almost nothing will deter you from your commitments and beliefs. Don’t be two-faced. Practice what you preach. If you are trying to teach your kid the importance of avoiding slander, then he'll respect those values if you're careful about your speech and try not to play the meddlesome, libelous neighbor.

Be consistent

Kids need to be able to trust that the world is a basically predictable and stable place. Try to keep schedules, parenting styles, discipline methods and moods as consistent as possible. If you are showering your kid with kisses for painting his face with your makeup or breaking the washing machine with your screwdriver one day, and then thrashing him the next day for doing the very same thing, chances are that your child will be more than a little doubtful about the world's security situation.

Encourage your child to share his feelings

Show your child that being emotionally open and honest about your feelings is not a bad or shameful thing. Promote open communication by sharing your own feelings and being in tune to his. Make it a habit of asking him how his day went and trying to understand the underlying emotions behind his communication.

Practice active listening skills

Children need to feel that their homes are a safe haven. Show your child that you care about what he has to share with you by paying attention to what he says. Validate your child's feelings even if you may not understand him perfectly.

Respect and trust your child

As parents, we are responsible for our children’s behavior. However, that does not have to preclude a sensible measure of trust along with respect for our children's privacy and individuality. Your anxiety for your child's safety and behavior does not obligate you to follow him to school with your binoculars or become involved in stop-and-frisk behavior of his belongings, thoughts, and feelings (provided that we are dealing with a basically healthy, stable child).

Helicopter parenting is not conducive to fostering a child's ability to trust himself and the world around him. If a kid feels that his sense of self is threatened by his parents' hovering presence, he will lose faith in his ability to involve his parents in his life.

We can make the world a better place by fostering trust with one child and one family at a time.

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