Teaching Children Trust and Trustworthiness

mormon familyGod talks often of trust in the Bible. He wants us to trust Him and He needs to be able to trust us. It’s also important that others be able to trust us. This family night lesson helps parents teach their children how to be trustworthy and also to understand who to trust and when.

Advance preparation: A few days before the family night, ask each person in your family to do something or to take care of something important to you. Tell them you won’t be checking in or reminding them until family night, when they will report to the family how they did—you are simply going to trust them to do what needs to be done. Remind them it’s important, and that you are certain they can be trusted with the responsibility. Have your spouse or oldest child trust you with something as well.

At the start of family night, ask your family to account for the responsibilities you assigned. Begin by accounting for your own responsibility. Explain how you felt knowing the person who assigned it to you trusted you. Then ask the others to account for their responsibilities.

Introduce a discussion on being trustworthy. Ask them how they felt being entrusted with something and how they felt when they completed it or didn’t complete it. Ask some of these questions as your discussion progresses:

  1. What does it mean to be trustworthy?
  2. Why does it matter if people can trust you?
  3. If your parents trust you, how could that affect your life?
  4. If God could trust you, what would that mean for your life?
  5. What do you have to do to become trustworthy to your parents, teachers, siblings, and others?
  6. What do you have to do to be trustworthy to God?

Give each child a sheet of paper and ask them to move to a place where others can’t see what they’re writing. Have them think privately about whether or not they are trustworthy. Then ask them to write three things they will do to become more trustworthy to each of the following:

  1. God
  2. Family
  3. Friends
  4. Others in authority (teachers, church leaders, etc.)

Provide them with an envelope to put their papers into. If you’d like, have them decorate it and label it. Tell them to put it in a safe place, but to read it every day until they feel they have become trustworthy. Remind them they may need to add new goals when they complete the first three.

Next, talk about learning to trust. Trust is complicated, because, while it is important to trust, we have to know who to trust and when to trust.

Use this example or a similar one to capture their attention:

Tell them to imagine they received an email or telephone call telling them school was cancelled tomorrow. If they knew for sure it came from the principal, would they trust it? What if it came from another student? One aspect of deciding who to trust is the source. If the information comes from someone with the proper authority, they are more likely to be correct or truthful.

Now ask them to imagine being at a party and being offered a new kind of drink. Their friends assure them it is safe and will make them feel happy and energetic. Should they trust or should they consult with a parent?

Ask them how they know if someone else is trustworthy. Answers might include:the person has a history of truthfulness and dependableness, the person has a good reputation as a caring and responsible person, or the person has never asked them to do anything inappropriate.

Remind them that not everyone is trustworthy. If they are asked to do something they know is wrong, even if the person is in authority, they should talk to their parents about it before obeying.

List several circumstances your children might find themselves in and discuss, as a family, the best approach to each one. Be sure to listen to your children’s ideas before offering your own. Following are some sample situations:

  1. Your teacher is having a learning activity about Japan. She gives each child a cup of tea. Your parents have decided tea is not good for children, but your teacher says you have to drink it because it’s part of school, and one glass won’t hurt. What will you do?
  2. Your friend didn’t finish her homework. She asks you to let you copy hers. You are new, but she assures you the teachers don’t mind as long as it’s only once in a while.
  3. One of your classmates sends an email to many students in the class telling something bad about another student, saying he knows for a fact it’s true and everyone should stay away from that person.
  4. You promised your mother you’d be home right after school to help her with a project. Your teacher has asked you to stay late to help her with a project. What should you do as a trustworthy person?
  5. You have been asked to do several things by a teacher, your father, your youth leader at church and your coach. You thought you could do them all, but you’re discovering some of the projects are taking longer than you thought and you also have a test coming up you need to study for. As a trustworthy person, how will you handle the problem?

Share the following story with your family:

Pumpkins Really Come from Seeds—Trust Me

As a young parent I was trying to help my sons, Brett and Cory, learn about the power within a seed—how God had created this little seed that could grow and grow and grow. I said, “Trust me; these little seeds are going to become pumpkins. We are going to have jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.” They looked at me with doubt, for they had never seen a pumpkin seed before, and having never been raised on a farm, couldn’t imagine that something as big as a pumpkin could come from these little seeds. I told them that there would be many pumpkins from each plant. I even showed them the package of seeds with the picture. They began to think, and then said, “You mean, Dad, that these little seeds will actually become pumpkins?” I replied, “Yep, they sure will. Trust me.”

I then explained how we had to plant the seeds, then water, fertilize, and weed the area so that the plants might grow. It would take work, and the hard thing was that it would take a long time. It would take patience. They boys would check to see how the seeds were doing every day. Nothing was happening. I reminded them it would take two to three months for the pumpkins to grow, but that pretty soon a little green sprout would come out of the ground. I reminded them, “Trust me.”

The day finally came when the little green sprout started to come from all the “mounds” where we had planted the seeds. They were excited, and so was I. The summer passed, and the pumpkins grew, and the boys said, “I can’t believe it. Those little seeds made these great big pumpkins. We trust you, Dad.” Sweet words to a daddy. I guess to be trusted we must be trustworthy—we must prove ourselves to be worthy of trust.  (Ed J. Pinegar, excerpted from a forthcoming book called, “What We Need to Know and Do” by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen,  )

If there were people in your family who did not complete the assignments you trusted them with, challenge them to complete them very quickly, in order to earn the trust you’re eager to place in them.

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