Teaching Trustworthiness in the Early Childhood Setting

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For young children, being trustworthy means:

  • Telling the truth.
  • Following the rules.
  • Not taking things that don't belong to you.
  • Doing what you say you'll do.

When you think about teaching your children to be trustworthy, you must remember that it does not happen overnight. Instead, it is something you should model for your children every day because teachers are an important influence on young children.


Consistent interactions with your infant over time will help your child to understand trustworthiness and to act trustworthy. Infants do not have the capacity to exhibit or not exhibit trustworthy behaviors, but infants do have the capacity to learn from others. The first years of life are trust-building years. Every time you respond quickly and appropriately to your infant's cries, coos and smiles, you build trust with your infant. In other words, your infant is learning to trust. Children who learn to trust others will be able to build characteristics in themselves that are trustworthy.


During the toddler years, you can begin to teach your children trustworthy characteristics. Toddlers need to learn simple rules (don't touch: that's hot) ; they are very interested in property rights (mine!); and they need to see you being consistent (read a story every night before bed). Patience and persistence on your part will help your toddler develop characteristics of trustworthiness.


Preschool children need to learn about rules and need to follow rules. Preschool children can learn about telling the truth, respecting property of others and following through. When you pay attention to and model these behaviors every day, your child will develop into a trustworthy individual.

Here are some ideas to help you model trustworthiness to your preschool child.

Make promises only of rewards that you plan to keep.
Make promises only of punishments that you plan to keep.
Be consistent.
Tell the truth to your children.
Tell the truth in front of your children.

3/15/2005 9:55:16 PM
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