Trust is an essential concept in human relations. It allows you to feel safe, to cooperate, to share and to learn. But how do children develop this ability to trust others? What factors influence their judgment?
According to psychologists, trust is built from birth, through attachment to parental figures. Babies learn to recognize people who meet their needs and offer them affection and security. They thus develop a basic sense of trust in the adults caring for them.
As they get older, children begin to interact with other people, such as peers, teachers, or strangers. They must then assess the reliability and competence of these people, based on verbal and non-verbal cues. For example, they can observe the tone of voice, the look, the smile, the body language or even the consistency between words and actions.
Children are also influenced by their own experience and environment. If they’ve been in situations where they’ve been betrayed, let down, or manipulated, they’ll tend to be more suspicious and protective. Conversely, if they have been encouraged, supported and respected, they will have an easier time trusting and opening up to others.
Trust is not a stable and final state. It can vary depending on the context, the person and the moment. It can also be challenged or reinforced by new experiences. Children need to learn to regulate their confidence, to find a balance between naivety and suspicion, between dependence and autonomy.
To help children develop healthy and appropriate confidence, adults can adopt a few attitudes:
– Be attentive to the needs and emotions of children, and respond to them with kindness and empathy.
– Be honest and consistent with the children, and respect their commitments.
– Acknowledge mistakes and apologize if necessary.
– Encourage children to express their opinions, doubts and questions.
– Value the efforts and successes of children, without comparing them to others.
– Foster positive social interactions with other children or adults.
– Give examples of trustworthy people in real life or in stories.
Trust is a dynamic and complex process, which is built throughout life. It is essential for the personal and social development of children. As adults, we have an important role to play in supporting children in this discovery.