What did you learn about trust growing up? What are your children learning right now?

Trust is the foundation of everything, especially of all relationships — between parent and child, siblings, teachers and students, citizens and government. It is the basis of friendships and intimate relationships. Without trust, something core is either lost or not created.

Your children learn about trust from you. Just as attachment is developed through the meeting of needs, so is trust. If your child is hungry, you provide nourishment. If your child is cold, you provide warmth. If your child is tired, you lay them down to sleep with a song or a story.

Later, your child learns more about trust from you by observing how you handle your commitments and how you listen.

If you commit to picking up your child from school at a certain time and you are consistently 20 minutes late, they may begin to question your commitment. If you tell your child, “I’ll be downstairs in a minute,” honor that agreement. Showing up later than you agreed weakens trust.

As Don Miguel Ruiz wrote in The Four Agreements, “Be impeccable with your word.” Uphold your agreements with your child.

If your child hears you talking about a friend behind their back, they may question your commitment to your friendships. Refrain from talking about your spouse, your mother, your children, your friends and all those you care about behind their back. Teach your children this practice, too, so that they will show up as trustworthy.

If one child comes to you talking about a problem with his sister, guide him to speak with his sibling directly. Problems are solved, trust is established and relationships are made more secure by speaking directly with the person with whom we have a difficulty. Provide your child with the words to use to solve the problem.

Listening is an art to be practiced, and how you listen either builds or erodes trust. You show up as trustworthy when you listen intently to your child — with eye contact, leaning in toward them physically, and responding to let them know you are right there with them. Listening while distracted, acting disinterested or brushing off a request to be heard all chip away at trust.

Your children learn by your example. Being a parent is a golden opportunity to practice solidly committing to your agreements and listening like everything depends upon it, because so much does.

Maggie Macaulay is the owner of Whole Hearted Parenting, offering coaching, courses and workshops. Contact her at 954-483-8021 or Maggie@WholeHeartedParenting.com. Visit her website at WholeHeartedParenting.com.

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