Creative Child

Gift Trust This Valentine’s Day

by Deborah Song

Trust is the foundation that all solid relationships are built on. Yet anyone who’s ever had a relationship knows just how fragile trust is. So we make people earn it. We’re careful about whom we give our trust to and how we dole it out. But when it comes to trust and our children, there’s a catch-22. Because trust is a lot like love: you can’t give it unless you’ve received it. It’s the job of parents to trust their children.

In order for kids to become trusting and trustworthy adults who will thrive in their own relationships, they’ll need to be trusted in their lives, time and time again. But trusting your child to set his own boundaries, make ethical choices, or even to carry out simple chores may not come easy.

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Trusting can be hard when trust has been broken. But more often than not, we choose not to trust because, with the best of intentions, we simply don’t want to relinquish control. We want to do everything possible to make sure our kids don’t fail or get hurt. So we grant them very little room to make their own choices and mistakes, and choose instead to micromanage them. But raising confident, trustworthy individuals means taking a leap of faith and making a conscious effort to let go and let our children find their own way, set their own boundaries and even depend on them from time to time. In doing so, they will find their own voice and learn not only to trust others but to trust themselves. Here’s how to trust your child more.

1. Trust in small doses. Whoever can be trusted with very little, can be trusted with much, is a famous biblical saying. Maybe you can’t trust your child to feed your infant. But you could trust your child to feed the gold fish or dog. Trusting your child means giving him a chance to follow through without incessant hovering. Reinforce the importance your child plays as a contributing member of the family. In building trust and accountability this way, you are also building your child’s confidence. And once your child can be trusted with small things, you can give him bigger responsibilities, and he will have gained the confidence to carry them out.

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2. Spend time with your child. You can only trust someone to the extent that you know someone, even when it comes to your own child. Getting to know your child will help guide how to trust your child better. Maybe your child is forgetful and needs a way to remember his responsibilities, for instance. The close bond you develop will also hold your child accountable to you. Make sure to give eye contact when your child speaks and really seek to listen to what he has to say.

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