Teaching our kids who and how to trust can be confusing and daunting for all of us parents. Especially if we’ve been through our own challenges in life (and yep! lots of us have!) that have made it hard to always know who to trust, or to even trust ourselves at times. But knowing what trust looks like, and who deserves it seems to be such an important skill for all of us and our kids to learn. Because if they know what healthy, trusting relationships look like they’ll have so much more confidence navigating the world throughout school and into adulthood! And that’s what we want! Healthy, happy, and savvy kids.
And for sure – sometimes our own fears make teaching trust messy. Like… sometimes it feels easier to simply say to our kids, “don’t talk to that person,” or “never talk to strangers.” But as they get older, we need to teach them how to figure that out for themselves. Because we can’t always be there to tell them who to talk to or avoid. And it’s hard to teach that stuff when we’ve been running off our own intuition.
So, it’s important we take time to reflect on what behaviours and values we find trustworthy and safe. Then we can chat with kids about who they trust and why throughout their life. Asking things like, “who are the people in your life that make you feel safe?” and “what are the little things they do to make you feel that way?”… are great ways to start the conversation. Tell them who you trust and why to help guide their values! Chats like these are good for us and our kids. They help us recognise who we trust, and why they’ve earned it, so these people and places are at the front of our minds and we know where to go when we feel like we’re struggling.
And of course, like all the hard stuff, trust starts at home. A strong sense of trust between grown-ups and their kids is super influential on how kids socialise throughout life. Because if our kids can trust us, and we can trust them, then as they grow, they’ll be more comfortable talking to us when their stressed or embarrassed or have made a mistake. They’ll be better at building healthy relationships. And we’ll know we can trust them. So, we’ll get to worry about them that little bit less.
There are a heap of tricks to building trust in the family. Making statements that make your family values clear is a nice way to start. Saying things like, “we’re a family who stays true to our word,” and “we’re a family who says sorry when we make a mistake” are little reinforcements that build trusting values between you and the kids.
But yep, there’s a catch… following through with those statements is important too! As grown-ups, practicing staying true to our word creates a safe and consistent environment. It also gets us into the habit of making sure we don’t make promises we can’t keep, which is really comforting for kids. But don’t worry – we all make mistakes. So admitting to our kids that we’ve struggled to keep a promise, explaining why, and chatting with them about what we could do to help fix our stuff-up… it shows that we respect them, and it models behaviours of trustworthiness and respect that they’ll give back to us! Throughout the month we’ll post a heap on Facebook about what we’ve learned when it comes to building trust with ourselves, within our communities, and alongside our kids. Things like how to find people that we can trust for help and support. And what we can do to build trust in ourselves. But there’s no hard and fast rules. So, share with us what you’ve learned too, and we can figure this thing out together