Remember when your baby first looked at you with those big, trusting eyes? You could throw them five feet in the air, and they never doubted you would catch them. When anything hurtful happened, they came running to you for a hug.
Then something happened. It could have been an event. Maybe it’s just age. Whatever the case, your child doesn’t seem to trust you anymore. That mistrust is hurting your relationship and endangering your child.
Your Role in Building Trust
Trust is the firm belief in the reliability of someone in your life. Though children are born with an utterly trusting heart, the world teaches them every day that not everyone can be trusted. As a parent, it is your duty to continue reassuring your kids that they can trust you completely, even when the world is against them. But how do you do this?
There is a big difference between listening and hearing. Listening is an active, engaging exercise in turning your attention to your child completely with the intention of understanding your child’s feelings. When your child opens up to you, be sure to make eye contact, put the phone away, and hold your response until your child is done speaking.
Listening also means acknowledging your child’s feelings.
- Be honest
When you were young, did your parent ever send you to find your shoes so you can go somewhere together, and then and leave without you while you weren’t watching? This may seem like a playful ploy, but it completely destroys your child’s trust in you.
Just like adults, children prefer if you tell them the truth instead of lying. They may cry when you say you are going to work and they can’t come, but every time you come home as promised it will help them trust you even more.
- Keep your promises
Keeping your promises is just as important as telling the truth. Only make promises you know you can deliver. While every fulfilled promise builds trust, every failed promise breaks it. Your child’s long-term faith in you depends on keeping promises.
- Establish boundaries
Creating order and structure in your child’s daily life is crucial to developing their trust. Kids need to know what to expect from their environment in order to relax, learn and grow. A daily routine and predictable consequences are key. Though it’s normal for a child to test your boundaries, you have to stand firm and implement boundaries and consequences consistently.
Once a child knows what to expect, they appreciate that you provide the safety they need, and that makes them trust you.
Building your child's trust in you pays in dividends throughout their life. Teaching them early on that your love and support is constant empowers them to come to you with their problems, hopes and dreams as they grow. But, more important, your child's faith in you empowers them to trust themselves.
That confidence is the cornerstone of lifelong success.