Children learn how to interact with others in their world from the people closest to them, typically their parents. Trust is essential to building his self-confidence as he matures and in enforcing proper behavior. Start building that trust when your child is little to create a strong emotional foundation.
Playing peek-a-boo with your child can start when she's an infant, and it helps build trust when used repeatedly as your child becomes a toddler. Hiding your face makes babies wonder where you went, then when your happy face appears, she learns you're always going to come back. This can help with separation anxiety when your child starts day care or preschool because she trusts you'll be there to pick her up at the end of the day.
Spending time playing with your child or reading to her can help develop a bond of trust. She learns that she matters enough to tear you away from other distractions for at least a little while every day. As she grows confident in your love for her, her trust in you will also grow. Play time also gives you the opportunity to act out circumstances related to trust, such as a mommy teddy bear picking up a baby one from preschool or feeding a baby bear when it's hungry. Answering her questions when you read to her gives her the security that you have the knowledge needed to take care of her, giving her stronger trust in you.
Separating Behavior From the Child
Your child must be able to trust that you'll love her regardless of how many mistakes she makes. When she's little, reinforce this trust by separating bad behavior from your love for her. For example, when she misbehaves, tell her that you're disappointed in her behavior but you still love her. Setting clear behavior guidelines, such as she's not allowed to color on the walls, helps with this. When she colors on the wall, you can tell her why her behavior is bad without making her feel like a bad person that might lose your love. Have role-playing activities where you pretend to break rules she's familiar with, then ask her whether she still loves you even though you made bad behavior decisions. She can then choose appropriate disciplinary action. Take turns pretending to break rules she gets to hear that you'll always love her, but that love won't stop you from disciplining her when her behavior warrants it. Try to pick some funny discipline ideas for your play time, such as standing on your head for 30 seconds or a tickle battle.
As your child enters preschool and kindergarten, she's ready for some simple trust-building exercises. An obstacle course helps build her trust, but start by letting her lead you through it. This can be a simple course of chairs, boxes or toys in a room. Blindfold yourself and ask her to steer you through the course without tripping over anything. When you make it successfully, switch roles so you're leading her. She must trust that you won't let her bump into anything painful or let her fall. Simple games such as follow the leader helps her build trust that you won't lead her toward anything dangerous so she can trust your guidance.
- Kansas Department of Education: Social Emotional Development
- Learning to Give: Building Trust -- Infancy Through the Preschool Years
- University of Main Extension: Building Trust: Infancy Through the Preschool Years
- Education.com: Trust-Building: Babies to Teens
- Pivotal Education: Practical Ways to Build Mutual Trust
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