I have a belief (my mantra) that all children are born wanting to be loved, accepted, and respected. The rest we have to teach them.
Trust is an important component of teaching children, especially ones with developmental and behavioral challenges.
I have worked with hundreds of parents and schools who misunderstand trust, where they are failing at modeling it, and where they are mislabeling competence as trustworthiness.
Competence is the ability to do something without supports. Trustworthiness is everyone (including the child) knowing that they can do it (are competent) and that they follow through.
One child in 6 has a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how they learn, interpret the world, and interact with others.
Expecting competence and trustworthiness without taking these struggles into consideration leads to anger, frustration, and confusion by everyone involved.
Let’s begin by trusting that the child isn’t alive just to make your life worse. Let’s trust that they would rather be seen as a welcome addition to your life. Let’s trust that with continual help, they will be able to become competent and therefore more trustworthy in a variety of areas. Be aware, however, that this is on their timeline, not necessarily a chronologic (age) timeline or an academic (grade) timeline.
In an organization, trust is generated from the top down rather than the bottom up. Sure, it is important for employees as well as leaders to be trustworthy, but the culture that allows trust to kindle and flourish is usually created by the leaders of the organization rather than the workers.
It is astonishing for me to see the blind spots that many leaders have about how pivotal their behaviors are to how trust is manifest in their entire organization. If the top leader or leaders do not act with integrity and consistency, it creates loops of “work around” activity in all of the other layers. There gets to be a kind of pseudo-trust where people look the part and act the part on the surface, but it is only skin deep. Under the surface, the ability to hold onto trust is as leaky as a bucket that has been…
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