There’s a lot out there these days about the importance of trust for business leaders. And… whatever is key for business leaders tends to be critical for parents as well. Is there any more important type of leadership than the leadership parents provide their children?
Today I want to talk about trust.
Do your kids trust you?
It’s an interesting trust journey we take with our kids. First they trust us for every critical basic need. They need and they trust we’ll fulfill on their needs. Then, it get more nuanced and complex as they grow. And possibly, even more impactful.
There is so much we could say about the topic of trust amongst parents and kids.
Let’s start by raising our awareness about what we’re doing that builds trust and what we’re doing that erodes trust.
How are you building trust?
Some examples I’ve heard from Moms recently…
- Answering a daughter in a very straight-forward manner – Keeping it honest and direct (and age-appropriate) allows your child to feel that you trust her to handle the information.
- Researching and choosing a potty training approach that feels best to the family - Being intentional and planning ahead allows for consistency and support, important ingredients in trust.
- Hearing a son’s concern and taking time to have him express it and his related feelings – It can be easy for us as parents to think that a friend not wanting to play with him OR running out of time to play Legos before bedtime are NOT big deals and should not be treated as such. Yet, in the mind of a young child, these experiences can be a big deal. When we take the time to listen to these concerns, they begin to trust us more fully with their thoughts and feelings.
- Creating a consistent bedtime routine – Familiarity and the knowledge that they can rely on you to predictably support them builds trust.
What are you doing that could erode trust?
Here are some examples I’ve witnessed or heard recently…
- Not going out to the restaurant the parents promised a daughter they’d go to – Again, this is one that can feel like it’s not a big deal. Plans change all the time. We, as adults, know this. Yet, if a child has been looking forward to something you’ve promised her and you’re not able to come through, she may not trust you the next time you make a similar commitment.
- Saying “in a minute” multiple times and not getting to the child’s request for quite some time – You start to appear unreliable.
- Answering a child’s question about why something’s important with “because I said so” – When you don’t take the time to explain the reasons behind your requests, then you’re communicating (albeit probably unintentionally) that you don’t have to have a reason in order to ask your child to do something. Even if the child is not old enough to understand the reason, it’s good for the child to know there is a reason.
- Scaring a baby so that she’d repeatedly make a funny face – I was so dismayed by this one! She’s relying on you for security and comfort; and this parent (or guardian) was providing the exact opposite.
There are many seemingly small, yet important, opportunities each day to increase the trust between you and your kids. With a little intentionality, we can easily take advantage of them and avoid those trust-eroding pitfalls.
So… it’s your turn.
Consider first: What have you intentionally done to build trust with your kids?
Then: What pitfalls have you witnessed or fallen into that erode trust?
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