What a simple word trust is, only five letters long. It is easy to sound out and phonetically regular. It is something we say constantly, often used in context as Trust me. How do we know more than others?  Why should someone trust us?  What is it with this word?

Trust can be a noun or a verb, can be used as an idiom, and has viable synonyms. It is one word so small, but so vital and powerful when you consider the balance of trust each of us must have in life.

Trust is one of the areas with which our youngsters with ADHD have a great deal of difficulty. Trust is defined as reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, and surety of a person. It is the confidence of expectation that things will work out for the good. But for our youngsters, trust is a word of loss and insecurity. For many of us with ADHD, the phrase trust me has been heard all too often.

Consider how many times a youngster with ADHD tries his or her best, but best is not good enough. Consider how many times impulsive creativity is met with scorn. How many times did she pour out her heart, only to be told her product was unworthy? The fragile self-image of childhood is undermined and the result is a feeling that you are unable to perform. You have lost confidence; surely you are unable to be successful, and certainly you are indeed one of those names you have been called—lazy, clumsy, stupid, ditzy, space patrol, planet surfer, chandelier-swinger, spaz, or moron, and so forth. Is it any wonder that the ability of the ADHD child to have trust in himself or herself plummets after each comment?

Adults report that they are still beset with comments from childhood that never go away. It is as if each one has a backpack permanently attached to his or her mind. The backpack is full of negative tape recordings which, in response to a negative tone, word, or insinuation brings forth the multitude of times when they were told over and over again that their work was of inferior quality, their comment insincere, their behavior inappropriate, their idea insignificant, and their creativity indecipherable. It is no wonder that the child through adult will feel distrust in themselves and a feeling of lowered self-worth. It is no wonder such a person will begin to have difficulty trusting others.

To trust is to rely upon, to place confidence in someone. To trust another to be honest leads to the vulnerability to be bullied. For if you trust someone, you do as they ask. Once the vulnerability is evident the power of the bully has complete control. Once you are under someone’s control, child or adult, your heightened vulnerability makes you unable to move beyond being controlled by another.

To trust should enable you to have confidence, hope, and resilience. These are the powers we must strive to place in our ADHD youngsters. It is imperative that we build confidence by enabling success. For only if one can feel the thrill of success will one begin to have confidence that one can indeed succeed and move beyond the self-doubt. Only then can one begin to trust in oneself and others.

As teachers, one of the most effective ways of developing your students’ trust is to comment honestly and kindly. Pointing out the positive portions of their responses, answers, and projects is important. Remind yourself that they have already heard about their shortcomings. Remember to avoid the use of if only, but if, and I thought you would have, all indicating that even their best response was not good enough. As teachers we so want our students to be successful and to achieve greatness, that we are so quick to point out how much better something would have been if…!

I remember as a child wanting to be able to draw, and I spent hours trying to be creative, often long into the night. The only comments I can recall were how I could have used other colors, media, techniques, and subjects. My most horrifying nightmare came in fourth grade, when I spent an inordinate amount of time drawing a braided rug with a cat sleeping in the center. My mother, bless her well-meaning sarcasm, commented on the spotted cow I had drawn and asked why didn’t I just cut one out of a magazine and paste it on the page. Our impulses of the moment can cut to the quick. When the vulnerability of the ADHD sensitivity is involved, our words must be couched and monitored to hold them harmless.

Many words mean trust: to believe, to rely, to confide, to commit, to entrust, to intrust. Words that radiate from trust include the emotions of faith, hope, belief, and desire. If you do not have trust, you have distrust or mistrust. To trust is to rely on yourself as you become resilient and confident. This simple word is webbed to an emotion so strong. I feel this visual thesaurus tells the power of trust so well. I am sure you can add your own words to empower the wheel.

It is our job to re-establish a child’s belief in self. Each child should be able to trust in himself or herself, and in you. Each child should feel he or she could trust enough to try, to experiment, and to move out of his or her comfort zone. To trust is to permit oneself to go somewhere or to do something without the fear of consequences. A child must rely on us to develop that trust. That child is in our trust. She or he has been left in our care.

I trust you will be there for them.

Joan

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