Trust is a requirement for any lasting relationship. Some people say it is the glue that holds a relationship together. But it is more than physical or emotional safety. It is also follow through and doing what you say.
According to Erik Erikson‘s Psychosocial Stages of Development, trust is the first thing to develop in a child. When a baby cries, it is signaling for help because it is either scared, hungry, wet, or tired. When the parent picks up the baby and soothes it, that response teaches the child that it can trust the world around it.
So it begins with very young children, learning to trust or not trust the world around them. But this testing of trust continues throughout the life of a growing child into adolescence, and even adulthood. When you ask your teenager to do something and they don’t follow through and without consequence, what you just taught them is that your words don’t mean anything, and that there is no requirement to do what you say. When you say one thing and do another, your child learns that you are unpredictable and don’t mean what you say… ever. When you make a promise to do something with your child and don’t follow through, your child begins to despise what you say before you have a chance to follow through.
The result of these interactions is that the child does not trust their parents, themselves, or the world around them. And if that is the case, imagine what it would be like to trust nothing. These kids grow up to distrust systems that are supposed to help them, people who care about them, or the rules in any environment. In fact, they have grown to question the reality and truth of anything put in front of them. They could even believe everything around them is a lie and is out to get them. Trust has failed them.