Trust is an essential component of a child’s development. When children have trusting relationships with their parents, caregivers, and other adults in their lives, they feel safe, secure, and valued. Trusting relationships provide children with the support they need to develop emotional intelligence, social skills, and a sense of self-worth.
On the one hand, whilst trust is an important quality to develop in children, it is also important to teach them to be cautious and discerning in their interactions with others. Children can sometimes be too trusting, particularly around authoritative figures, and at a young age when they have not yet developed a full understanding of the world around them.
So how do we ensure our children feel safe, secure and trusting under the right circumstances, whilst trying to teach them about potential risks and setting appropriate boundaries? Below we’ve listed some suggested strategies for fostering a safe, secure and trusting environment and relationships for children:
- Create a stable and predictable environment: Children feel most secure when they know what to expect. Establishing a routine and providing consistent rules and expectations can help children feel safe and secure.
- Foster open communication: Encourage children to talk openly about their thoughts and feelings, and be sure to listen actively and empathetically. When children feel that they can trust adults to listen and respond without judgment, it fosters a sense of security and connection.
- Provide emotional support: Children need emotional support to feel safe and secure. Offer hugs, words of encouragement, and positive feedback to help build their self-esteem and confidence.
- Model positive behaviours: Children learn by example, so be sure to model positive behaviours, such as being honest, respectful, and trustworthy. When children see adults modelling these behaviours, they are more likely to internalize them and develop similar qualities.
- Address fears and concerns: When children express fears or concerns, take them seriously and offer reassurance and support. Validate their feelings and help them problem-solve to find solutions.
- Teach safety skills: Teach children basic safety skills, such as how to recognize and avoid dangerous situations, how to identify trustworthy adults, and how to speak up if they feel uncomfortable or unsafe.
- Stay involved and engaged: Children need to feel that adults are interested and involved in their lives. Make time for regular one-on-one activities and engage in activities that the child enjoys.
By using these strategies, parents and caregivers can create an environment where children feel safe, secure, and trusting under the right circumstances. Building trust with children takes time and effort, but it is an investment that can pay off in the form of strong, positive relationships that last a lifetime.
For further information on Child Safety Standards, information is available through: The Victorian Government https://www.vic.gov.au/protect or check your local government website for further details.