Teach your Child about Trustworthiness

Image of Tommy the Trustworthy Turtle

For young children and adults, 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 it does not happen overnight. Instead, it is something you should model for your children every day because you are the most important teacher your child will ever have.

Consistent interactions with your infant over time will help your child to understand trustworthiness and to act in a trustworthy manner. Infants do not have the capacity to actually exhibit or not exhibit trustworthy behaviors, but they can 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 in themselves characteristics 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. 
3/11/2005 2:51:13 AM
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