‘Trust me – I got this.’ Few phrases can make a parent so proud….and oh so terrified. The very idea of trust is tricky. It doesn’t come easily for many people and it is particularly difficult for parents who have grown accustomed to being the steadfast, trustworthy figure in a little one’s life.
Developing a mutual trust between you and your child is one of the most important roles you have as a parent. When your child is very young they are very dependent and trusting of you. As they grow up and slowly take the steering wheel of their own lives into their own hands, parents become (or need to become) more trusting that their child is in control. Yikes!
Okay, okay, so we get it. Trust is super important in developing healthy children. So how exactly do parents go about cultivating mutual trust with their children?
We’re talking good old fashion active listening. Not the ‘over- the- newspaper’ kind or more accurately ‘ while- thumbing- through- social- media’ kind. So, stop what you are doing and give them your full focus when they speak to you. Look them in the eye to show them that you really are listening. If they are upset, get down to their eye level and show them that you are sincere in your willingness to listen to what they have to say. Acknowledging and validating your child’s thoughts and feelings teaches them that they are worthwhile listening to and will encourage them to communicate to you.
#2 Details, Detail, Details.
Listening closely will tell you what your children are saying but sometimes you need to tap into your intimate understanding of your child particularly if your child is young. Here we are talking about the kinds of things that only you as a parent can know – non-verbal cues that tell you what your child needs. For example, you might decide not to discipline a child for acting out if you know they didn’t sleep well the night before or they are unwell. This will give your child the knowledge that their needs are important and that you understand them.
When your child seeks your help it is super important to be ready to lend a hand. When your child falls off their scooter, naturally you come running. Demonstrate regularly the same response when they need your help with solving other problems too.
And when you make a promise, as all parents do, be sure to be committed to following through with it. Nothing breaks down trust like broken promises. Don’t promise you will play with them later if you can’t or know you won’t. Teach them that you can be relied upon to do as you say.
It is so easy to fall into the trap of not telling the truth to our kids. Perhaps it comes from a sense of feeling they are not ready to understand certain concepts. Or maybe you feel the need to have all the answers to their questions, like ‘what is the internet?’ (be honest, do you even know!) Honesty with our children is so important. Be honest with them about your feelings. And don’t be afraid to say you don’t know things. Truth-telling teaches kids that honesty is to be valued and will encourage them to be honest with you without fear.
#5 Step Off!
Back it up their well-meaning parent. It will be hard but you need to provide your child with chances for independent successes. If they climb trees, resist the urge to hold their hand (let your own parental fears from trying at all!) Just be there with them, watching, ready to assist if they ask for it). If they want to try out drama classes for kids, don’t let your emotions stop them from giving things ago.
# BONUS TIP
Trust is integral in acting. Be it local musical theatre, studio performances or playing charades in your living room, all actors need to trust themselves and their audience. Google acting classes near me and find out about how your local drama school can help in building mutual trust between you and your child. Or contact us at O’Grady Drama for kids acting classes available in Sydney and Central Coast areas.