Authored by Richard Alan McMahan in Education
Published on 07-26-2009
Building trust with young people requires a foundation that starts with you. In order for trust to be established, certain expectations must be met by you in order for that trust to flourish. Trust, especially for youth, is like planting a seed. In order for it to grow, it must be placed in fertile ground.
It is crucial that you provide a foundation for trust to grow by being consistent with your rules, listening to what is being said, offering respect to the youth in question and showing faith in their ability to be trustworthy. These are just some of the building blocks of nurturing trust that must be established not only by you but within you.
Building trust with youths takes time. Especially if a relationship has been hurt by a lack of trust in the past. Therefore, start slowly and build confidence by showing trust in small measures. A good way to start would be to send the youth to the store with five dollars and ask them to purchase grocery items at their discretion. You can tell them the general product but allow them to make the purchase based on their own decision. Emphasize that they are a critical part of your plan and you are counting on them. When they return with the purchase in question, praise them for being reliable! Whether or not the item purchased meets your own expectations is beside the point. You can fine tune their shopping habits later.
As trust builds so can the magnitude of the tasks offered to build that trust. Critical household chores, such as taking out the trash bins for collection can show your faith in the youth to complete an assignment that has to be done in a timely manner. Upon completion, reward the youth in a manner you deem appropriate and then build on that trust by giving the youth more important assignments. Remember that being consistent in your expectations and providing ground rules to nurture trust building are paramount to success.
Completion of homework assignments are always a good way to build trust and at the same time, encourage a young persons education. Take time not only to verify that the work is done but also get involved with their studies by looking at what they have accomplished and praising their effort, or, if necessary, cajoling them to do a better job. Reward their efforts and soon you will find that the trust you build in their pursuit of educational goals will not only build a trusting relationship, but also will manifest better grades. The ultimate “win-win” scenario.
Building trust with youths is a long term project and the activities used to nurture and build trust are critical to success. Be patient as you offer activities and assignments to grow a trusting relationship. There may be times when a youth stumbles and it is incumbent on you to not allow these minor missteps to compromise the trust that has already been established. If you provide attainable goals in the activities you assign to build trust in young people, you will find your efforts manifested in a trusting relationship that will be enduring and rewarding.