Raising Trustworthy Children

June 15th, 2013 @   -  No Comments

 

The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise). If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest” (Bukhari).

Trust is at the foundation of any good relationship, at home or otherwise. Without it, relationships break down, the smallest of issues develop into big problems and even daily functions become inefficient as uncertainty and suspicion set in.

At home, if your children do not trust you, they are less likely to turn to you in times of trouble or to take your advice. Also, untrustworthy parents are likely to have children who are the same.

If you do not trust your children, tension and suspicion will fill your relationship. You will find it difficult to depend on them. At the same time, if your children are untrustworthy, as they move on in life, they will have difficulties in their personal relationships, work, etc.

Our repeated actions over time determine whether people trust us or not. In turn, whether people trust us or not determines their reaction to our future actions and possible mistakes. If you are always trustworthy and make a mistake, others will be more likely to forgive you. However, if people already mistrust you, a mistake can lead to more distrust and further harm the relationship.

So how do you teach and help your child to become trustworthy and maintain it?

The truth

Be trustworthy by speaking the truth. To maintain your children’s trust, be honest with them; do not lie to them.

It is not always the lie you tell your children directly that weakens their trust. If they observe you lying to a friend or neighbor, the impact can end up being the same. Some parents even involve their children in the lie, not realizing the message being taught. For example, a parent asks their child to answer the phone and tell the caller that they are out. In the parent’s mind, this may be just a small harmless fib. But to the child, this shows that lying is acceptable and that their parent is not to be fully trusted.

Promises

Fulfilling promises is an important element of being trustworthy. If you often make promises to your children but do not fulfill them, they will become less likely to trust you in the future. The same goes for them. If they make a promise to someone, they must learn to stick to it. Do not make a promise unless you are entirely sure that you can follow through with it.

Keep your promises even if they are seemingly insignificant. A promise may appear insignificant to you but its impact on your child may not be. For example, you call for your child to come promising them a treat, but you do not have one. If you repeat this enough, your child will learn not to fully trust you. In addition, they will learn that it is acceptable to make certain promises without intending to keep them.

Some people break certain promises so often that they become the norm and are no longer considered problematic. One important example is punctuality. Once you set a time with someone, you must honor it by arriving at that set time. Many people even joke about their tardiness but it ultimately means that they cannot be trusted with time.

Keeping secrets

If a child tells you a secret, even if it seems silly or insignificant to you, keep their secret. Not only will they learn to trust you but they will also learn that it is important for them to keep other people’s secrets.

Support

Be there for them during their time of need, even if it may not seem like a big deal to you, as long as it is a big deal to the child. For example, if your child’s favorite toy just broke and he was upset about it, do not belittle their emotions. Empathize with them. These early experiences will teach them to turn to you. Later, when they are older and encounter more serious challenges, they will know to turn to you for advice, empathy and comfort. If they do not get a lot of support from you initially, they will likely turn to someone else in the future such as a friend or a teacher.

 

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