Building Trust with Children

Thanks to Chimothy27 for the photo.

I want to be a great parent to my children, and I love when I come across ideas and thoughts from other sources that relate to parenting.

Right now I’m reading The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey, and one of the first things he talks about in his book is “Being credible: to yourself and others.” He argues (and I completely agree with him) that people will base their trust in you by your credibility. In a nutshell, what you say is what you mean. It seems obvious, right? Well, Covey gets to the heart of what this really means, and even gets into parenting.

Here’s what he says…

“A friend of mine recently shared an example of how the idea of giving people someone they can trust has impacted her on the family level. She said:

Years ago as a young mother, I read an article entitled “Can Your Child Trust You?” The author pointed out how, as parents, we will often tell a young child “no!” over and over instead of following through in meaningful ways to ensure that he obeys the first time. As a result, children learn that if they keep at something long enough, they can usually wear a parent out and eventually get their way. They don’t develop trust that adults mean what they say when they say “no.”

This author then suggested effective ways to follow up and to build trust. For example, if you’ve said “no” to a toddler and he doesn’t obey then you immediately go pick him up and move him away from whatever he was doing.

This one idea has had a profound positive impact on the way I have interacted with my children over the years. It takes time and effort up front. It takes deep commitment and follow-through. But it pays incredible dividends. Instead of wasting time having to repeat yourself over and over, you answer once. You child learns to trust that you mean what you say.

You see the opposite of this in homes everywhere. You see parents who give their children instructions, and then fail to follow through when those instructions are ignored. You see children “get by” with things because their parents are so caught up in their own projects or in conversation with other adults that they simply don’t pay attention…” – – The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, by Stephen M.R. Covey

I never thought of how parenting, even when we have very young children, can affect how our kids trust us. I think this makes sense – yet I also see how much dedication, commitment and follow-through this really takes as a parent. I don’t even have multiple children yet, and I can tell that with each addition of the family this will get harder and harder.

Have you felt the impact of this in your life, either as a son or daughter, or a parent?

3 Replies to “Building Trust with Children”

  1. I’m not a parent, but I have felt this as a teacher. Numerous seasoned teachers have told me that consistency is key with classroom management. Being consistent with my words and discipline action is a struggle and something I look to improve on in the next school year.

    1. That’s great to hear from a teacher, Casey. I can’t imagine how hard that would be for teachers of younger children to establish that in the classroom – especially when many parents might not be practicing that at home!

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