When we let them know we trust them, we illuminate their internal compass - that part that wants to make decisions that are brave, strong and good for them.
All children want to do the right thing, but the ‘right’ thing doesn’t always look as it should - because they also want to try new things, discover their edges, experiment with their independence, and feel connected with their peers. Sometimes their needs will clash with what’s ‘right’. Sometimes the battle will be mighty. They will disappoint and infuriate us, but none of this is about wanting to do the wrong thing, or wanting to make frustration and fury billow around us like liquid smoke.
It’s about learning how to get what they need in ways that don’t cause breakage, and that takes time. In the meantime, they’ll need plenty of opportunities to experiment with making decisions and feeling the consequences of those - for better or worse. Experience is always the best teacher. Sometimes it’s the only one. But if we don’t trust them, we squander precious opportunities for them to learn what the right thing feels like, what the wrong thing feels like, and the consequences. For sure there will be times when our trust needs to be re-earned, but let this be when the reasons make sense - when the trust has been given, then broken.
Guidance without trust feels like control. It strips the inherent drive to do right. It stifles and sends the message that we don’t believe they can make brave, strong decisions without us. On the other hand, guidance with trust is empowering. It puts the focus on their capacity to make good decisions and gives them space to experiment with this. ‘I trust that you can make decisions that are right for you; or to be honest with me even when that’s hard; or that you’ll trust me enough to talk to me about what you need, rather than chasing it in secret.’ When our trust feels impossible or too conditional, they will let go of the chase. Chasing something that never comes closer is exhausting and saddening. It’s our job to guide them, trust them, and believe in them, as much as it is their job to show us they deserve that trust....