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7 Steps to Being a Trusted Adult 

August 14, 2023

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.”

James Clear

I have a barrage of colorful sticky notes in my office. Blue, yellow, neon green, and white litter the wall above my desk, by my computer, and hanging off the edge of my screen.  Many people have sticky notes and lists around their work area to remind them what needs to be done. A few of mine are like that; however, most notes are quotes and reminders for me to remember the type of person I wish to become.

I have one note that reminds me to “Say Yes”! Below the picture, there is a handwritten caveat from me. “If it is a hell yes, it aligns with my values, makes me happy, and does not add to my overwhelm.” This caveat is written from my experience saying yes when I needed to say no.

I have quotes on communication,

quotes on finances,

quotes on my dreams and desires.

All the quotes are the votes I make daily for the type of person I wish to become.

August feels like a transition month, with many students and teachers transitioning back to school or parents looking for ways to spend the last days of summer with their children. 

As students come back into the classrooms or as you work with clients, there might have been complex challenges over the summer months. They may not be able to go on vacation or have leisure activities. Maybe as a child, they spent long hours in front of the TV or on video games because their parent was not home. They may struggle to get a good meal during the day due to a lack of food in the house. 

Trauma and stress come in many different forms. 

Trauma is not necessarily the actual event; it’s how your nervous system interprets it. Children interpret events very differently than adults. When a big, scary, or sad event happens, and a child doesn’t have a calm, competent adult in their lives to support them. The child comes to their own explanations about the event. The reasons for the event can be skewed through the child’s perception of body sensations and feelings. That trauma can live in the body for years.

However, you can help a child or another adult heal that trauma by being a trusted, calm, competent person through listening, holding space for emotions, and turning them towards the strengths in their lives. 

It takes time, and with deep wounds, it takes professionals to support the child or adult that has experienced the trauma. It’s a community of support to help them on the path of healing.

Be a trusted adult.

There is true power in a relationship between a trusted adult and a child. It can make all the difference in a child’s outcome in life. 

In Sources of Strength, trusted adults are asked to take a pledge to promise to:

  1. Acknowledge that reaching out for support is a strength
  2. Listen and react non-judgmentally
  3. Respond in a calm and reassuring manner
  4. Reflect back on the feelings, strengths, and ideas I hear when listening
  5. Ask how I can be helpful and respond as I am able
  6. Do what I can to connect to other supports if asked
  7. Maintain confidentiality and communication if exceptions exist

You can download the Trusted Adult Pledge to hang in the classroom or office door letting children and other adults know that you are willing to support and listen with curiosity, calm, and non-judgment. When an adult can do this simple act for a child or youth, they build the skills of resilience.

As you are entering into the next season, take a moment to consider the following questions:

  • What actions are you taking that demonstrate what type of person you wish to become?
  • How will you show up as a trusted adult for students or clients?
  • Who is your trusted adult?