Children, they say, are the reflection of parental behaviour. They are mirrors, emulating their surroundings and people they interact with, which in their first few years are their parents, relatives and some form of helpers. They would not only look like them but also would emulate gestures, habits and language.
Parents, doting as they are, would often pay particular attention to their child’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual wellbeing. Most of the time, the child’s spiritual needs would come a lot later. Unless the parents are very active in their community or deeply religious. For most, the child would have the same religion as the parents. But religion is different from spirituality.
John Bradford said : ‘For a human being, especially a child or young person, to have a full quality of life, spirituality in all its aspects must be nurtured and affirmed. For children or young people who have been marginalised or who have suffered deprivation in every way, the need for such nurture and affirmation in human spirituality is all the more pronounced’.
Spirituality is innate
Once we teach values, teaching right and wrong, prayers, why we pray, to whom we pray, they start to think more. Around four or five they normally get a sort of awareness. And with their multitude of questions you would realize they are looking for more than toddler-sized answers. How can we be sure that we are nurturing children’s spiritual health?
Nurturing your child’s spirituality
- Tell stories – storytelling is more than bonding with your child. It opens up their minds to all sorts of explanation of why things are, what made them so, why some people sometimes do bad things.
- Have traditions – rituals and traditions are ways of remembering the past and making memories for the present. It brings about a sense of connection with your family members both alive and those who passed.
- Explain holidays – why they are celebrated, what it meant. The spiritual side of things.
- Teach gratitude and reflection – For all the good that comes to your life, be thankful. For all the mistakes they will make, correct and reflect.
Don’t pretend to know all the answers and gently lead them into the way of nature.How things are, why can’t it change… explain as much as you can. Gradually you will see how much this will help them in future, by starting them early on their spiritual growth.