“Children who are raised with a robust and well-developed spiritual life are happier, more optimistic, more thriving, more flexible, and better equipped to deal with life’s ordinary (and even extraordinary) traumas than those who are not.” — Lisa Miller, professor of psychology
When children grow up having spiritual experiences — or embodied experiences of feeling connected to something beyond themselves— they have a foundation of peace, resilience, and joy that can carry them through the ups and downs of life. As a parent, you can’t orchestrate these moments, but you can create conditions that make transcendent moments more likely for your child. Here are a few practical ways to nurture spirituality in kids:
Show your child unconditional love.
More than anything else, it is your loving attention and wholehearted positive regard that will instill your child with the belief that life is trustworthy and they are worthwhile and lovable, just as they are.
Try this: Set aside 30 minutes of one-on-one time with your child without any distractions or agenda, other than to give them your undivided attention and delight in who they are.
Have encounters in nature.
Kids are spending less time in nature and more time indoors on devices. Being in nature is shown to benefit mental and physical health, and increase a sense of well-being.
Try this: Go on a hike or walk. Allow your child to collect a rock, pinecone, or small stick to bring a remembrance of the outdoors with them.
Listen to music.
Music can evoke feelings of awe and wonder, no words or direct teaching are necessary.
Try this: Get cozy, put the lights on low, and play music that is especially meaningful to your family. You can try a selection by Laura Inserra or Ludovico Einaudi.
One of the single best ways to nurture spirituality in kids is to be thankful. As gratitude expert Rober Emmons says it’s difficult to feel grateful and unhappy at the same time. The experience of gratitude softens and opens the heart to connection.
Try this: Complete this sentence with your child: “Right now, one thing I’m grateful for is _______.”
Make time for stillness and reflection.
More likely than not, your child’s schedule is full and their waking hours are full of sensory stimulation. Silence and stillness can promote creativity, attention, and a sense of well-being.
Try this: Have designated tech free times in the home on a weekly basis. If your child is open to it, use the time to create art or try a simple meditation.
Allow opportunities to make a positive contribution, however small.
Your child will feel empowered and more compassionate if they see they are able to improve the lives of those around them.
Try this: Encourage your child to pick up trash in the neighborhood, write a thank you note to a friend, or volunteer at an animal shelter.
Tell stories of transcendence.
Humans have gathered to tell stories of compassion, kindness, and resilience for thousands of years. The stories that surround your child will teach them what it means to be human and how to navigate life. The more stories you share, the more you will help nurture spirituality in kids.
Try this: Check out our collection of spiritual experiences.
Nurturing your child’s spirituality happens in very small and simple ways over time. You don’t need to make a grand pilgrimage as a family or do hours of contemplative practice with your child. Simply be open to the moments of connection and wonder that present themselves, and have patience for the many moments in family life that seem less than transcendent — this is part of the wonder and magic of life, too.
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