Trust is a skill to be learned and a choice to be made. Trust can be fragile when it is not handled with tender loving care while negligence, careless words, and cruel actions can destroy it.
Trust is like a mirror; once it’s broken you can never look at it the same again. “Trust is a fundamental human experience, necessary for society to function and for any person to be relatively happy.” (Good Therapy, 2012).
Children observe the models that are practiced by their families around them. They form their understanding of their world based on the subtle details and behaviors of their parents toward them and other adults around them. Parents who have difficulty trusting their own environments have difficulty teaching their children how to trust theirs.
As infants, a child’s first objective is not surprisingly to decide whether or not they should trust their caregiver. At this time, adults need to demonstrate that they will provide a nurturing, respecting environment, and respond to the infant’s various cries appropriately; cries that could be described as decoding a complex cipher for new parents.
However, parents who have experienced traumatic experience and constant betrayals have a difficult time re-establishing trust in all their relationships. They may react to their children with inconsistent behaviors, or try to mask their feelings. They may also be unable to maintain control over their emotions by overreacting or threatening their children if they misbehave.
What happens when parents are ambivalent about trusting their surroundings? Children’s resultant fear and uncertainty may persist in them as they grow. Parents who weren’t loving and trustworthy cannot teach a child to love and trust. The negative impact here is that children start to feel isolated, have low self-esteem, are unable to face uncertainty and have difficulty socializing with peers.
We shouldn’t allow our fears, emotional wounds or erroneous beliefs to become a habit in raising our children. We need to be aware of our own state of mind and personal feelings by intentionally making the decision to tame our fears and help our children feel safe and build their confidence in us and in themselves. This emotional stability will help them develop into resilient adults who can take on life’s challenges and have a positive attitude towards life and its many drawbacks.
Sometimes, as children, we remember our own parents sharing advice with us about our relationships with other children; “do not get close to this kid, she might cause you harm” or “Don’t pour out your feelings to anyone even then the closest, they might take you for granted”. Although it was with their best intentions, parents sometimes rely on advice that was handed down through generations rather than learning or developing their parenting skills by turning to the experts in the field.
Without trust life is scary, because it is the heartbeat of any relationship. Children should be taught how to trust wisely. Wisdom comes from taking the risk to socialize and trust others, while you know that you are likely to make some mistakes. Their trust should be based on the instinctive knowledge that no emotional state is guaranteed to last forever.
Written in collaboration with Arabian Child organization. Visit www.arabianchild.org for more information about early childhood education in the United Arab Emirates.
A loving mother of a son who has changed her life and put it into perspective. Ayesha is a senior social media specialist, a Global Leader for young children in the Arab region, and a writer in few Arabic publications. Her column is written in collaboration with the Arabian Child organization, and offers inspiration and an in-depth exploration of early childhood development.