The early childhood years are critical for developing social skills and self-esteem. The early interactions your child has with you, the rest of their family, and others affect how they will relate and respond in relationships. Children with healthy self-esteem have learned to trust that the adults and other important people in their lives love them and accept them. Taking steps to ensure that trust is built between you and your child is crucial from birth and beyond.
How do I build trust with my child?
Be a trustworthy leader Ever heard of “walking the walk” or “practicing what you preach”? These are important concepts for the early years when your child watches everything that you do. An example of where you can easily do this is mealtime. If you find it important for your child to eat their vegetables but you don’t serve yourself any when the serving dish comes to your place at the table, your example can send the wrong message.
Be a good listener and respect their opinions As your child begins to talk and develop opinions, be sure to listen to what they have to say. This will show that you value their input. Try to avoid harsh or judgmental statements when talking to your child and they will feel that the “door is always open” and you are accepting of their ideas. If your child starts a conversation when you are busy with something else, make sure to finish what you are working on and set aside quality time to talk later.
Value their honesty and respect their opinions When your child is honest with you, make sure to emphasize how much you appreciate when they tell the truth. Your child will become a person with principles and you will have nurtured a relationship in which there are no secrets.
Tell the truth This is a huge part of building trust with your child. Your child needs to know that they can always come to you for information and support. If you say that you will give them a reward when they finish cleaning up their room, you need to be prepared to give that reward. Whenever possible “honesty is the best policy.” This lets your child know that they can take you at your word. Truth-telling also includes following through on consequences that you tell them for misbehaving. If you warned your child that if he knocked over his brother’s project one more time, he was going to need to visit the thinking chair and he does it again—follow through on the consequence. Promises that you can’t or don’t follow through with will result in mistrust.
Other Month of the Young Child blogs:
- Week 1 - Physical - Children on the Move
- Week 3 - Cognitive - Exploring with All the Senses
- Week 4 - Language & Literacy - Communication