Camping has always been a huge part of our family’s summer experiences. While living in central Ontario, we decided to invest in a small property at a Christian campground. We loved the idea of our kids having a summer place to call home and we made the most of it! One of the features of this camp was that it had a pool that opened promptly at noon each day. My boys were always ready for a fun swim so after scarfing down their lunches we would make be a beeline to the pool… me, lugging a wagon full of towels, life jackets and toys and them running full tilt to be the first at the gate. My oldest son was always the cautious one as he approached the pool’s edge. Making sure his life jacket was securely zipped and snapped, he would test the water temperature and slowly ease himself into the water all the while making sure that I was right there. On the other hand, my youngest son (who had just turned 4) would barely have his life jacket on before he was barrelling full tilt, plunging into the water screaming with glee. As a parent, you can imagine how much fun that was, trying to corral two very different boys, ensuring that they were safe and having fun. While both approached their afternoon swim differently, they had one thing in common: they trusted that their mom was there to help them and keep them safe.
You would think that trust is something that comes naturally in relationships, especially those between a parent and a child.  But whether we realize it or not, trust is earned and we have been establishing levels of trust with our kids since the day they were born.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.

Proverbs 22:6

The key to building trust and guiding our children onto the right path is consistency. Here are some helpful ways to build trust with your children:

1. Set the example.

Always follow through on what you say you are going to do. Children are watching to see how consistent you are. We know that life happens and sometimes plans change. In those instances it is important to address that with your child and explain the “why”.

2. Don’t break promises.

Whenever you make a promise to a child, make sure that it is reasonable and something you can follow through on. It only takes one broken “I promise” to diminish your child’s trust tremendously.

3. Show mutual respect.

While you are the parent, your children do deserve your respect as well. God has given them unique qualities and giftings and honouring those and encouraging them shows that you respect them. When a child grows up respected, they are more apt to confide in and trust in their parents.

4. Always be honest.

Of course, you need to maintain age appropriate levels of honesty but if you always answer your kids truthfully, they will begin to trust you naturally.

5. Really listen to your child.

One of the ways to build trust with your children is to listen to them when they have something to say. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, make eye contact and show genuine interest in what your child has to say. Always. I have always told my boys that they can tell me anything and I promise to listen and “not freak out”. This has taken at times a great measure of self-control on my part, but the rewards of this have been huge. I love that they can come to me and feel that I am a safe place to process their innermost thoughts or struggles.

6. Help break down their difficulties into manageable steps.

It is important for your children to know that you are there for them and that you can help them conquer life’s challenges one step at a time.

7. Remain consistent in your parenting.

Our jobs as parents is to remain consistent, set boundaries and follow through on consequences that you have set up in your home if someone doesn’t follow a rule. If you are a two-parent home, ensure that both of you are on the same page on these rules. Kids feel much safer when there are clear expectations and boundaries.
When you parent consistently, not only are you building trust with your child, but you are teaching them how to be people who are worthy of trust as well.

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About the Author: stephanie holmberg

Stephanie is a wife, mother, pastor, and friend who is passionate about seeing people live authentic, purpose-filled lives. When not working alongside her amazing kidmin team, you will find her at home spending time with her family, snuggling her furry friend Milo, or out exploring all the amazing places Edmonton has to offer.