Building Trust with Older Children

The Trust Technique is useful when your child is old enough to start wanting some independence…

Once a child is old enough to tell the time they will probably start to show signs of not needing you constantly around. This is a good opportunity to begin building their independence. If your child wants to get outside and play on their own, though, you’ll want to be sure they’ll come back at the agreed time. This technique will help establish trust between you and a wandering child and can build independence in a child who has been clingy.

Every child is different, and use of this technique will also depend on where you live and what dangers stand between you and the friend’s house they want to visit. Before you start, you must make sure your child can tell the time and act sensibly.

  • Give your child a watch and read the time together.
  • Make sure your child is with a friend of similar age whose parents agree to you trying out the trust technique.
  • Tell them they can go out and play if they come back in 15 minutes.
  • If they return in 15 minutes, tell them they can go out for another 20, showing them you trust them to return on time.
  • Build up the time you allow your child out on their own, letting them know that every time they come back on time, you’ll reward them with more trust in their next outing.

It’s always a worry when children are off doing something independently. But at least with the trust technique you have the security of knowing that your child is aware of their responsibility and will report in, letting you know that they are safe and sound and not getting up to mischief.


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  • Forum: Share advice on this and other parenting topics in our discussion forum.

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