Recently I came across a very interesting notion about trust. It was written by Simon Sinek in his book “Start With Why.” He equates trust with a safety net for a trapeze artist. In an experiment, the artist was seemed to be able to do a lot of risky moves and dangerous manoeuvres when he knows that there is a safety net to catch him in case he falls. But interestingly, the moment the safety net was removed, he freezes up there, unable to perform a simple and safe routine.
If the trapeze artist has such a positive “trusting relationship” with his net, what about our family? Is there such a strong trust among the family members? How can we build a solid trust system within the family? Here are a few suggestions that you can try at home.
1. Be open-minded
Parents must commit themselves to keep an open mind at all times. We must pledge to listen first, act later. Listen openly to what the kids are saying and feel their emotions. If they make mistakes, avoid the urge to dish out punishments before giving them proper chances to explain themselves.
Little children are the world most honest creatures. They would not hide their feelings and parents must continue to encourage this. By giving them a fair chance to be heard, we are effectively demonstrating that there are always two sides of the coins, and that we trust their opinions.
2. Be consistent
One good example that destroys trust is when parents are inconsistent in their rewarding and punishing their kids. If they are in a good mood that day, they can overlook many glaring mistakes. But if their moods are bad, a tiniest error can turn their home upside down.
The children will be left confused. They may have problems trusting their parents because it all depends on the parents’ emotional state.
We are all emotional creature, so to be rational in times of great distress is rather difficult. Therefore, parents must find a way to provide the needed consistency in dealing with their kids.
3. Deliver your promises
Have you ever let life little pressures to distract you from delivering your promises? Congratulations if you have always been an honourable and trustworthy parent. You have indeed provided your children with a lifelong lesson of integrity and honour.
What we usually happens is the opposite. Adults unapologetically break their promises to little kids like there’s nothing wrong. Yes, they may not complaint too much but it doesn’t mean no damages are done. We must be aware that negative consequences will definitely follow. One such consequence is a trust being broken.
When parents make a mistake, it is never beyond us to ask for forgiveness even to our kids. In fact, we are showing them our ability to put the ego aside and correct the wrongs – a very hard but necessary thing to do. Most importantly, we are teaching them that when they make a mistake, they should be equally comfortable in apologizing to you.
All these and more shall go a long way towards building a more trusting relationship with your little angels. Like the trapeze artist, they now have a strong safety net to fall back to on their way to explore this unforgiving world.
As published in NST, 4 Feb 2017