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December Value: Trustworthiness

We wouldn’t get very far without trust!

Picture how often we have to trust people in our everyday lives: we trust people to stop when we cross the road, we trust the doctor to prescribe us the right medicine, we trust our close friends to keep our worries private, and pilots to fly us safely to our destination – basically, we need trust in almost everything we do, and people need us to trust them.

Trust is a scary concept for children; they are often unsure of their own judgement and know they can’t always trust themselves to get it right: “I meant to do the homework, but I got distracted”, “I meant to ignore her, but she said a mean word”. If they can’t trust themselves then how can they possibly trust anyone else?

Psychologists tell us we are hard-wired to trust our parents; it is an essential part of survival. We then generalize out this trust to others and learn who we can trust by trial and error.

Learning whom to trust takes time and experience. Children haven’t yet had time and lack any real experience; therefore, they find it incredibly difficult to know whom to trust. As parents and teachers, do we sit idly by and watch your son or daughter stumble on? Of course not! We can help prepare them to build trust, watch and learn. When they tell you about how someone told stories about one of their friends, you can ask: “What does this tell us about the person telling the stories?”, and “How do you think you would feel if one of your friends did that to you? “ This way we can help them to make the right choices, themselves.

Trust, once lost, is almost impossible to get back. Children need to learn this lesson quickly, or they are bound to suffer, themselves. A loss of trust is much like gaining a reputation for dishonesty, the reputation sticks. So, let’s teach them – earn the trust of others, be wise enough not to lose that trust, and finally be careful who you trust with what.

At the heart of any trusting relationship is ‘empathy’ - an understanding of what it is like to be in the other person’s situation, and ‘integrity’ - a belief that we are the kind of person who will do what is right. When we get it right, we are trustworthy, and everyone wins.

Mr Michael Leach, Headteacher


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