Your child has likely asked, “Why is it important to share, be good, or kind.” For parents who are religious, the answer might be easy: that is how their religion or how God tells them to behave. But for those who are not religious, the answer might be less obvious. One answer can come from spirituality.
Broadly defined as the belief and care of the human spirit or soul, spirituality in children is most often found in religion, but also transcends a belief in a higher power. It involves a sensitivity toward more than the material or physical world and a belief structure that can help children define right or wrong. Besides raising “good” kids, there are practical reasons to want to raise spiritual children as research consistently shows that children with a well-developed sense of spirituality are happier, as much as 80 percent less likely to suffer depression and even 50 percent less likely to suffer from substance abuse as teens.
4 Ways to Begin Teaching Spirituality
But just believing in the merits of spirituality, doesn’t mean your children will become spiritual. Parents can help through these four ways to start them on the path to a spiritual life.
Getting to the Spiritual Heart of Holidays
Easter, Ramadan, Passover and other widely celebrated religious holidays come with a built-in spiritual component that parents should tap into. Even those who are not religious can use the holidays to talk about the importance of spending time together, celebrating blessings and caring for one another. By its very nature, Thanksgiving is a secular way to broach the subject of spirituality in positive and celebratory light.
Nature is always present in the lives of Miami’s children and is a good way to build an appreciation for how life connects spiritually. Teaching kids the importance of appreciating nature and caring for the environment can show them that it takes a collective effort for society to prosper. We should not litter or pollute because we are hurting nature and ourselves at the same time. Getting kids started on a path toward natural spirituality can be as simple as looking at the stars or gazing off into the horizon at sunset to install in them a feeling that we are just a part of larger universe.
Read and Tell Stories with Spiritual Lessons Together
help raising spiritual children bring in books and your family to help. Children’s books are typically built around a moral theme that can explain the basis spirituality. The Children’s Trust Book Club has many books that simplify the importance of kindness, understanding and other lessons of a spiritual life. All kids from birth to 5 year of age in Miami-Dade County can be signed up for the Book Club by texting “Read” to 786.460.CLUB (2582). Also, explaining about family traditions, religious or otherwise, will predispose children to adopt spirituality if it runs in your family.
Connect Spirituality to Modern Issues
For children who are old enough to follow current events, and who may be confused or saddened by many of the troubles society faces, spirituality is a good way for them to build resilience. Research and Clinical Psychologist Lisa Miller from Columbia University told Raising Sages that spiritual experiences can help children deal with crises, resist peer pressure and avoid negative habits like drugs and alcohol. Believing in something bigger than themselves, helps children become more resilient to life’s troubles.
Parents have to look no further than the coronavirus pandemic and social justice upheaval of the past year to understand that for children to muster the positive amount of empathy and hope needed to persevere, they need to believe that human kind is in this together and that caring for each other is part of our responsibility.