trust /trəst/: firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. -Oxford Languages
Hey parents, teachers, and mentors! We know trust is a must when it comes to leading, but do we all know how to build trust with our children? Let’s have a quick chat.
I was recently thinking about a trip my family and I made to Sky Zone Trampoline Park to celebrate my oldest daughter’s birthday. This is one of my favorite ways to celebrate birthdays because it is fun for the entire family (and we are not on the hook for the after-party cleanup)! While there, my son–who is enamored by ninja warriors–decided to take on the Warp Wall (picture below). After a couple of tries, he made it to the top! There was only one problem; he miscalculated the distance between the Warp Wall and the pole to exit the obstacle.
I instinctively told him, “alright son, go ahead and grab that pole and slide down.” I missed the fact that he was clearly stuck–afraid that he would injure himself if he attempted to come down. I tried to coach him on how to safely dismount to no avail. After about two minutes of rough parenting (I was really struggling to get him down lol), I finally said, “just jump! I will catch you.” Surprisingly, he was more receptive to this idea. “Are you sure?” He responded. “Yes. Trust me.” He finally came down.
In retrospect, I probably said about one hundred words in that long two minutes, but “trust me” were the only two words I needed. My son’s trust in me caused his fears to decrease and his confidence increase. Trust is a powerful and vital tool for effective leaders. Here are five ways to build trust with your children.
Five Ways To Build Trust
My generation would simply say, “do you, boo boo!” In other words, be who you are, not who you think others want you to be. On one hand, you do not want to broadcast every intricate detail of your personal and professional life. On the other hand, you do not want to give the perception that you are perfect. If you give that perception, you will inevitably build a tower of high expectations on a foundation of false hopes. Then, when you make a mistake, that foundation will shift and cause the tower to collapse. Be comfortable with the person in the mirror. That’s who your children want/need you to be.
You need to have clear, open, and frequent communication with your children. They should never be surprised by your expectations or thoughts about them. Be completely honest by telling them how their unique skills contribute to your household’s success. Don’t be afraid to show emotion as you lather them in positive affirmations, but try to limit or completely eliminate your negative emotions while correcting them. Being transparent exposes your true motives, so let your children know you have their best interests at heart and prove it through your consistent actions. As I have said before, more is caught than taught.
According to Oxford Languages, integrity is “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness.” The key word is honesty. You should strive for your actions to be consistently honest and your decisions to be morally sound regardless of the circumstance. Why? Because your children are always watching! You cannot convince your children that you are transparent with them when your actions wreak of dishonesty and deceit. They would accurately assume your lack of integrity perforates every single aspect of your life–including your relationship with them. Be honest, make morally sound decisions, and consistently demonstrate integrity.
Here’s a general rule of thumb: whatever you do, follow through. Follow through on your promises, rewards, and discipline. Be organized, maintain structure, and be consistent with who you are (authentic), what you do (transparent), and how you do it (integrity). Be physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually present for your children. Always remember this: empty promises lead to shallow and untrustworthy relationships.
Some say, “knowledge is power,” but I believe applied knowledge is power! Nobody wants to follow a clueless leader. So we have to be continuous learners who simultaneously apply what we learn. Our children are counting on us to constantly learn more and refine our parenting and mentoring skills. Guess what? You are working on your proficiency right now by reading this, so kudos to you!
Remembering and applying these five tips will undoubtedly enhance your relationship with your children and restore the power to those two words we discussed earlier: “trust me.” Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you next time!
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