The Importance of Trust Compared to Mistrust

Trust is used in every type of relationship today. To trust someone is to be able to rely on them for protection or comfort. In some situations, trust could represent having faith in someone, showing loyalty, or honesty. However, these psychological theories are not comparing the trust bond between romantic relationships. Erik Erikson applies the Trust Versus Mistrust Theory to the relationship between a parent and child.

I believe it is up to the parents to gain trust from the infant or toddler.  At birth, the mother swaddles and cradles her infant.  Psychologists say this method creates a strong bond between the mother and the infant.  As the child develops in the upcoming months, he develops an attachment to the main caregivers, usually mom or dad. This attachment is how I’m referring to the word “trust.”

To develop a sense of trust from the caregiver, the child must be supported and protected, among other means of attention.  When the caregiver is loving or expressing affection to the child, the child feels confident and brave.  When the child is able to develop this sense of trust, he will be able to explore and interact more, of course, with the caregiver nearby.  This type of trust relationship occurs everyday.  For example, an infant relies on his mother or caregiver to pick up, feed, or change him.  As the mother continues to do this, the child is more confident that the mother will continue to respond to her childs needs in a patient and loving manner.  The father is also very responsible for nurturing a child to grow and explore.  Fathers are more likely to play physical games with their children, which can teach toddlers how to interact in social situations such as school, sports, or other games.

When the caregiver fails to show sympathy to the child, this is where mistrust can play a role in the relationship.  The child can signal for attention by mainly by crying.  When the child does this, he is expecting the mother/caregiver to show affection and tend to the infant’s needs.  However, when the mother is impatient or stressed out, the child has a harder time being able to trust her.  This is why it’s extremely important for the caregiver to be sympathetic and supportive.  If mistrust between the two continue, the road ahead could be very rocky.  Mistrust can often cause developmental or relationship problems during the future years .Maladaptive outcomes are possible when a child is unable to rely on a caregiver.  Mistrust can especially be shown in the teenage years, when the child fails to communicate or show sympathy to the caregiver due to the great amount of distance in the earlier years.  These issues can not only occur with caregivers.  It can happen in school or in public.  While talking to others, the teenager could withdrawal from conversations.  Worse effects could occur such as mental issues or addictions to drugs and/or alcohol.  I can understand how one might feel alone because of the lack of support given as a child.  If I felt as if I was not able to rely on friends of family, I would shelter myself or be unable to keep relationships with people due to miscommunication.

To what extent is developing a sense of trust a cornerstone of healthy development?  I believe this is debatable.  Some say that a parent should nurture their child as well as let them explore on their own.  Others say too much protection and care can cause the child to be too attached to the mother, in which they would constantly cling, avoiding any opportunity to explore or interact with others.  Scientists have done studies here, psychologists have done experiences there, but what is the true answer?  I believe to combine the trusting relationship with the child being able to explore to a certain extent is the key to healthy development.  Children need guidance in order to learn, but too much guidance could cause this attachment, which is hard to break.

When the toddler/infant can trust the caregiver, we can also say they have confidence in them.  When the child is able to explore to a certain extent on their own, we can say they have their own personal sense of confidence.  When the mother and her child can interact by tying trust with confidence, the child can benefit by exploring more and more.  The mother should give her child the proper amount of space so that the child can grow to be an individual.

Throughout my childhood, there were many things I wasn’t able to understand.  Why would my Mother leave me for work?  Why do I have to sleep in my own room tonight?  As a child, it seems like such a big issue.  Had I spent every moment with my mother as a child, I would never be able to act as an individual.  Had I slept in my parents’ bedroom every night, I would never gain the confidence in myself to sleep alone.  Now I understand why my caregivers had done these things.  Without a doubt, they had given me the support and love I needed, but they had also given me my space to help me learn how to grow and “explore” on my own.  If I had not been given this, I believe that I would not have grown up to be my own person.  I would like to thank my Mother, Father, Aunt, and Uncle for teaching me to have to confidence in myself to grow into my own person.  All children should be able to have the love and support they deserve.

Although this theory is focused more on the relationship between an infant and his caregiver, issues with trust can affect a person later in life, dealing with romantic relationships or friendships.  If a child grows up feeling a lot of mistrust from caregivers, he may never know what it is like to be able to fully trust a significant other during adulthood.  Since I was able to trust my parents as a child, I feel like it has benefitted my futured as a whole.


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