Build Trust with Your Child-
So they will come to you with their problems
I was reading a news article the other day: a nine-year-old had committed suicide, yes 9!, in the article, the mother is quoted as saying, “I wish he had come to me.” Heartbreaking. I can’t speak to that situation, but I can offer you 7 steps that will go a long way towards ensuring that your child will feel comfortable coming to you with their problems.
1. Tell the Truth and Make Truth Important.
Don’t lie to your child, they will find out and then trust is broken and learn lying is OK.
Create a safe space for telling the truth by not putting your child in a position of choosing between lying or getting punished.

2. Establish boundaries, consistency and routine. Consistency also reduces “crazy making:” when a child can anticipate a certain response, (s)he can grow a sense of fairness in it. When we feel we are being treated fairly, we can let our guard down. Routines and consistency also help reduce conflict, as the child will get to futility quicker. For example, when pushing for “ten more minutes” a child is likely to give up whining if she knows you are going to calmly say, “It would be fun to have ten more minutes but that will put us in the late zone (Dynamic Listening). When this song is over, it is time for us to put our boots on.”(Positive Parenting).

3. Be open. We parents make mistakes. Being open about our shortcomings, fears, and struggles helps our children trust that doing the same is safe. Volunteering information to your child teaches him/ her how to do the same. As you do this, talk to your child about how to volunteer information to people beyond your family in a way that is safe, how to not overshare. Consider age when explaining why it may not be a good idea.

4. Show you are trustworthy with your actions, not just words. Follow through with what you tell your child you will be doing. Part of keeping promises is to not use promises you don’t intend to keep and hope the child won’t remember, to reduce your guilt or instead of saying “no.” Promise what is reasonable and within your ability to (calmly) complete. Be reliable consistently. 

5. Speak the truth in love not in judgment Keep the focus on behavior, not the person who is your child.

6. Invest time Only the right experiences build trust and creating those experiences takes time. Recent research shows it takes 5 positive interaction to compensate for 1 negative. If there is a deficit for your child, it will affect their character and willingness to come to you with a problem.

7. Dynamic Listening Respond to emotional statements with validation and support. When a child says, “I’m scared,” use words to show your child you will help keep s/he safe—“I can see why you’d be afraid of the dark. Let’s figure out a way to help you with that.” Avoid using invalidation like this, “Oh, monsters aren’t real. You’re being afraid for no reason.” That might inadvertently grow a negative core belief like: My feelings are wrong (which they aren’t). When they feel heard, understood and not judged they lean that speaking up works—my parents will help me. Feelings are normal and not too scary. When I am overwhelmed, I can ask for help.
For more information on Dynamic Listening, problem-solving, How to Get Thru to Your Child (without yelling, yes it is possible) Positive Parenting and many other parenting concerns call me, Coach Len at 616 238 2351, email at coachlen@thefamilycoaches.com or use the contact form on my website. The Family Coaches specializes in coaching parents in raising happy healthy kids.