How to build a relationship of trust between parent and child

Trust is at the core of all positive human relationships.  This is according to Cindy Glass, Owner and Co-Founder of Step Up Education Centres. She says, “Trust, when nurtured and honoured within a family system can lead to happier, more fulfilling experiences, greatly reducing stress and anxiety., Mistrust, on the other hand, inevitably leads to hurt, tension and misery. Many believe that trust can be something one demands of another: ‘You must trust me!’ Research, however, has shown that trust is earned, in small gestures and in moments in time.”

International speaker, Brene’ Brown says that actions demonstrating trustworthiness are likened to marbles. Every time one demonstrates or actions a trust behaviour, you can put a marble in a jar. However, when a behavior demonstrating mistrust occurs, you can remove a whole handful of those marbles and it will take a lot of hard work to replace the marbles of trust again. Trust is earned.  It cannot be demanded of anyone.

Parents want their children to trust them and children want the same of their parents. Cindy explains that it is up to parents to make the first move in modelling the behaviours that create relationships of trust within the family. Nurturing trust requires action.

Cindy gives 5 actionable behaviours that you can implement to help create and nurture trust within your families:

  1. Learn to listen to understand: There is a difference between hearing and listening.  Listening entails eye contact and a genuine, sincere interest in what the other person is saying.
  2. Strive for non-judgemental parenting: Children who hide their challenges and negative behavioural choices (creating a sense of mistrust) most often do this because they are fearful of their parent’s reactions! Keep the lines of communication open by assuring your children that you do, indeed, have their back. Seek positive solutions to challenges together. This does not mean that you must overlook or justify behaviours. It simply means that your children will fall from time to time and they need a safe, trustworthy place to seek solutions.
  3. Be your word: Do what you say and say what you do, consistently and sincerely.
  4. Be the person your children can rely on: Keep your promises. Consistently tell the truth.
  5. Establish boundaries and accountability: Just as you are accountable for your own behaviours, teach your children to own theirs.

“Your children will most likely model what you do rather than what you say. With patience and love, you can learn to trust each other, despite the difficulties and challenges that you will face as a family. Remember that each action that creates trust is like a marble being put into the ‘trust jar’. Breaking that trust is like taking a handful of marbles out of the jar. It is way better to consistently build trust than to have to try and regain trust that has been broken,” Cindy concludes.

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