An honest relationship with open communication is imperative between parent and child, as this helps to establish trust. If children are raised to value honesty, they will talk openly with parents and not feel the need to sneak around or lie. This allows parents to be informed and make informed choices when guiding children along life's road. If children don't trust their parents for whatever reason, they will do everything they can to keep mom and dad in the dark. If you want to know what your children are doing, they need to be able to trust you enough to let you in on it. Here are the most effective ways for a parent to earn a child's trust:
1. KEEP YOUR WORD
Keeping your word about everything possible, no matter how small, is imperative to earn trust. When parents tell a child they are going to do something, they need to make sure to follow through and do it. They trust that your word is as good as gold. Broken promises are a good way to lose valuable trust.
2. BE HONEST
When it comes to important and meaningful questions, the best policy is to be honest, even if you have to sugar-coat it a little. Being honest does lets the child know that honesty, no matter how difficult it can sometimes be, is the right thing to do. Honesty without distorted repercussion establishes a child's trust that they can talk to parents about anything.
3. KEEP YOUR COOL
Parents who are approachable about sensitive issues build trust with the child. If a child knows he can come to you and you won't "flip out" over something that warrants attention, he will trust you to help him come up with solutions and will trust your guidance through the situation. Parents who fly off the handle about issue after issue quickly send the message that they can't be trusted to hear the child because the child is afraid of yelling, screaming, beating, and punishment. When the child can't trust the parent to listen calmly, they turn to their inexperienced friends instead, and those are the last people you want guiding your child.
4. BE THERE FOR THEM
When kids know that mom and dad will be there for them, supporting them through crisis after crisis, they develop a bond of trust. My daughter told me, "You were always there for me. Right or wrong, I knew you'd be right there." By her knowing that I was on her team, even if we did have private conversations pointing out what she did wrong, she trusted that I was reliable. She knew that even when nobody else was there, I was, allowing her to put her full faith and trust in me. And since she trusted me, she shared a lot more with me than other girls did with their parents.
5. BE A ROLE MODEL
Don't do anything sneaky or wrong that you wouldn't raise your kids to do. Cheating, stealing, and disrespecting authority are behaviors your child will emulate. Exemplary behavior teaches lessons and establishes trust in your integrity. Poor, unacceptable behavior is a great way to lose your integrity and trust from your children.
Children watch how we, as parents, behave. If we keep our word, are honest, remain calm, are steadfast, and are well-behaved as we ask them to be, they learn that we can be trusted under all circumstances. This level of trust is critical in raising children through the confusing years of adolescence. If you lay the groundwork for trust early, keep it strong through adolescence, and continue to foster it into adulthood, your children will never take anything you say or do with a grain of salt and will trust you to guide them. Establish trust and you're on your way to raising respectful, honest, moral human beings. Aside from love, trust is the most valuable bond available when guiding children through the smoke and mirrors of life.