I just wrote a blog post about a core ingredient of self-discipline: trust. Trust is not built on single interactions but in the accumulation of experiences over time. Let's make those count.
We build trust by:
- Connecting. Predictable and close relationships with caregivers is the foundation of trust. Spend one-on-one time with your child. Being cued in to your child's emotional state enriches your relationship and ensures that it feels like bedrock. This is true for tots and teenagers alike.
- Listening. When our kids feel heard and acknowledged they feel more secure, in control, and communicative.
- Talking about trust. What does it look like? What do we do when it is broken? How do we mend and repair?
- Telling the truth. We don't need to tell our kids everything, but being trustworthy means saying what we mean.
- Apologizing. We aren't perfect and shouldn't try to be. Apologizing shows that we are committed to mending and repairing broken trust.
- Establishing predictable routines. You don't have to be locked in to a rigid schedule, but repetition involves predictability, stability, and comfort. Not only does this allow your child to relax knowing her needs will be met but also allows her to anticipate, take charge, and participate in these activities.
- Following through. Make good on your promises - for both rewards and boundaries. The strategy of limits and consequences helps you avoid power struggles and increase predictability.
- Avoid empty threats. Choose consequences you can live with and follow through on. If I heatedly tell my teen that she won't be able to drive for a year, I've backed myself into a corner it is hard to get out of.
- Nurture a village. A network of caring adults around each child increases their sense of security and safety. It will also increase your own.
We don't parent in a vacuum and investing in families ensures that everyone has the means to build trust. On a community level, we can set families up for success by providing:
- Stable housing for all families.
- Affordable childcare.
- Opportunities for economic self-sufficiency.
- Strong relationships between schools and parents.
- Early childhood programs that enable parents to get support and learn about child development.
- Support for parents of adolescents - just because our kids are older doesn't mean we don't still need support!