Trust is probably the most foundational requirement for a healthy relationship. Without trust there is no
sense of security and, when trust has been broken repeatedly, it takes repeated acts of trustworthiness
to even begin to feel safe. For children who have been displaced, whose trust has been violated by the
very individuals who were supposed to be their protectors, it may feel safer to assume that they will be
betrayed by those around them.
Caregivers of displaced children often have to deal with behaviors such as lying, stealing, and other
disruptions and it can definitely be a struggle to show those children that those behaviors are not
necessary. They work to show those children that trust can be earned even after it has been broken.
Unfortunately, what is seldom considered is that these negative behaviors are the things that they
learned were necessary for survival—they learned that the adults around them could not be depended
upon to meet their needs and, as a result, had to do whatever it took to meet those needs for
Caregivers of displaced children must then work just as hard, if not harder, to earn the trust of those
children. If a child has no reason to trust that their caregiver will actually provide care, they then have no
reason to try and earn the trust of the caregiver. If they believe that the caregiver is inconsistent or
hypocritical in their expectations and rules, they will feel justified in ignoring or breaking those rules. But
if that caregiver is consistent in those expectations, if they are willing to engage in an honest dialogue
about the mistakes and repairs in their relationship, then they are in the unique position of teaching that
child how to build healthy, trusting relationships.