It’s the foundation and the root of our relationships. When trust exists, a relationship grows and flourishes but without trust, a relationship can end in ruins.
Isaac Watts once said, “Learning to trust is one of life’s most difficult tasks.”
How can parents build a trusting relationship with their children? Here are some suggestions on how to do so.
Trust begins in infancy. When a baby cries, they need to know that their parent will respond to them in a positive manner. Smile and softly talk to your child as you try to discern what they’re communicating. Is he hungry, tired, or wet? Perhaps he’s bored or wants to snuggle? Responding to your infant’s needs is the first step to building trust.
One of the most important ways to build a trusting relationship with your child is to shower them with love. In all your interactions, show your children an always present, limitless love.
Communication is the cornerstone of trust. The more you talk openly with your child, the more your relationship will grow. Seek out times to talk with your child. Ask their opinion on something. Listen with love, compassion, and without judgment.
It seems obvious, but honesty with your child is crucial to establishing a trusting relationship. When you’re sad, don’t tell your child that you’re fine, rather, be honest and tell them you’re sad. You don’t have to tell her the details of why you’re sad but be honest about your emotions.
If your child asks you a question that you don’t have an answer for, let her know you’re unsure. You can tell her that you’ll have to think about it, or you can invite her to help you research the answer for her question.
Appreciating honesty is a vital component of building a trusting relationship with your child.
When my girls have done something wrong, I always let them know that while the action may be disappointing, lying about it makes it much worse. I always commend my children when they’ve been honest and told me the truth about a situation.
It’s critical that your child knows that you appreciate their honesty.
You should avoid making promises to your children. Promises are often hard to keep. Sometimes situations occur which result in having to change plans; if you haven’t promised something, it’s easier to explain these changes.
Avoiding promises brings me to my next point; if you say you’re going to do something with your child, follow through with it.
Children innately believe their parents. The more times you change your mind or don’t follow through, the less reliable you are. A child needs to know that their parent will always do as they say.
Social media has bred an epidemic of the public shaming of children. While our kids may need discipline, making a spectacle of it is inappropriate. In fact, such actions could destroy any trust you’ve built with your child.
Discipline with discretion.
Be a role model.
Your child is watching everything you do. Their observations of you help them form their opinions of whether you are trustworthy. It’s crucial that you role model the behaviours you want your child to practice.
For instance, if you expect your child to make his bed every day, you should make your bed every day too. If you expect your child to speak respectfully to others, then you should do so as well. The more often your child sees you upholding the values and rules you teach, the more trusting they will be of you.
Take responsibility for your mistakes.
Nothing builds trust more than owning up to your errors. There isn’t a perfect parent on this planet. We’re bound to screw up, and that’s okay! When you slip up, apologize to your child and let him know how sorry you are.
From the moment our children come into this world, they are drawing conclusions about the world and the people who are living life with them. Building a trusting relationship with your child is an ongoing commitment but it’s the cornerstone to having an unwavering relationship with your child.
“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” ~George MacDonald
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