Although love and respect between a parent and child are beautiful, the real gold lies in the level of trust a kid has in his or her parents. But there are quite a few ways in which parents ruin trust with their kids. Here’s what NOT to say and do if you want your kid to trust you…
Ways parents ruin trust
Giving ultimatums without following through on them
Kids know how far they can push their parents, and they’re aware when their parents lose control and start making impossible ultimatums. This is just one of the ways in which parents ruin trust with their kids. Threatening to ground them for like is kid-code for “never going to happen” and a sign that you can’t always be taken at your word. It’s essential to communicate firm boundaries and use consequences to actually enforce those boundaries.
Threats of physical punishment
Instead of making any kind of threats, even if you don’t plan on following through with them, talk to your kids as people and listen to their side of the story. Mutual respect between you and your kids will go a long way toward maintaining trust.
Invoking other authority figures
Most moms are guilty of this one, but saying “Just wait until your dad gets home” really isn’t helping. In fact, it’s doing much more harm than good. The same goes for telling your kid how you’ll spill the beans about their behaviour to their teacher. Your kid has a sense of trust that you are their safe space, and you threatening to break that trust also damages the bond that you have with them.
Making them feel ashamed or embarrassed
After bad behaviour, some parents will demand that their child confessed the deed to someone else afterwards. This is done in an effort to shame the child into repentance or just discourage the same behaviour in the future. Yes, it’s a certain way to embarrass, shame, and hurt your kid, but it’s also a foolproof way to break the bond of trust between the two of you. As the parent, you have the privilege of having a front row seat in your kid’s emotional and social growth. This includes witnessing a lot of mistakes, which are all part of growth. But they need those as learning opportunities to become functional adults. Your kid trusts you with their emotions, and if you share that with the world, you’re making them distrust you.
Sharing their secrets
A sense of innocence and the belief that all makes sense in the world is one of the best things about childhood. When you share details of adult-themed issues with your kids, you’re confusing them and instilling fear in them. Also, you’re robbing them of their childhood. Although it might seem tempting to share the details of your adult issues with your kid to gain support, you should avoid it like the plague. Leaning on your kid for support is damaging and can lead to long-term problems.
Talking about them as if they’re not in the room
This is demeaning. Kids want to feel important and included, even if they’re standing in a room full of adults. When parents take their kids seriously enough to include them in conversations and speak to them instead of about them, it sends a message of respect.