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Teach Your Child to Be Trustworthy

What does being trustworthy mean to you? As a parent we want to trust our children to make the right choices when we are not around, to do the right thing when presented with a childhood dilemma, and to come to us with their problems. There will certainly be some decisions they make that we will not approve of or be happy with, with all the obstacles they face and a large amount of peer pressure from other children. So, how can we develop trustworthiness in our children?

Trust is an issue that should be established between both parent and child. This, as every other issue parents teach their children, always starts with the parent teaching by example. Children automatically trust parents as their caregivers, nurturers, teachers, and providers, but that trust can be broken when parents do not live up to those standards of care. Trust is defined, as having a firm reliance on the integrity or ability of a person or thing, whereas a person who is trustworthy is one who is worthy of being trusted.

Therefore, being trustworthy to our children starts by making sure we keep our word to our children, although life throws us curve balls and there are many times we make a promise and are unable (by no fault of our own) to keep that promise. Talk to your children about these circumstances, before these issues present themselves and how they affect the things we hope to be able to do or the promises we make.

Preschool
For preschoolers, a great way to start out talking about trustworthiness is to read books or tell your preschooler stories about trustworthiness; such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf or read the book, The Berenstain Bears and the Truth by Stan Berestain or Tommy the Trustworthy Turtle by the Oklahoma State Extension Character Critter Series.

Talk about the characters from these stories and books and explain to your preschooler what trustworthy means; especially emphasize the following qualities that are displayed in a trustworthy person:

  • Being honest
  • Following rules
  • Always keeping a promise
  • Never being mean
  • Never taking things that don’t belong to us

Talk to them about how they feel if someone is mean to them, or is not honest with them. Ask them how they feel when someone does this to them or how they feel about that person.

Main points to address:

  • Explain to preschoolers what it means to be trustworthy.
  • Read books or tell stories that emphasize the characteristics of trustworthiness.

Grades K-3rd
Emphasize to your children that when we give our trust to someone we are confident in their ability to not hurt us, to be honest with us and we ultimately rely on them to be trustworthy. Trust is an essential aspect of any good relationship. When we receive trust we are giving others the confidence that we are trustworthy, that we will be reliable, be honest, be a good friend and be caring to that person.

Sit down with them and talk about situations in which having someone who is trustworthy is important and how being trustworthy to friends and family is important. You can also watch movies that have characters in them who find themselves in situations of losing or gaining trustworthiness. What could the characters have done different? What did the characters do right?

Main points to address:

  • Watch movies that have characters in situations of losing or gaining trustworthy qualities.
  • Talk to them about situations where being trustworthy is important.

Grades 4th-6th
Children in these grade levels depend greatly on their friends for support and to give support. This is a perfect subject to talk to your children about trustworthy qualities. “What is his/her best quality that makes you friends? Do you think that is a trustworthy quality?”

Use examples of things that you have done in your childhood that demonstrate trustworthy qualities or things your children have done that demonstrated trustworthy qualities. “Even though you broke the lamp, telling the truth is a very trustworthy quality.”

Main points to address:

  • Talk with your child about their friends and trustworthiness.
  • Use examples when you were a child, or things your children have done that have shown examples of being trustworthy.

Resources
Resources that can help you in your venture include:

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