Spirituality is a perception of a greater power or higher power in control of things. It is the belief that there are more meaningful things in life as opposed to wealth and material pleasures. Spirituality extrapolates into an interest in nature, science, moral and social concerns and emotional connections with people. As a parent, you probably have an idea of what being spiritual means to you, personally.
But the question that faces a parent is – how to transfer spiritual values and nurture these in your child? Take a look at a few suggestions to make this task easier.
11 Ways to Inculcate Spirituality in Kids
1. Help your child experience nature
Children naturally gravitate towards animals and nature. All children love to play in the park and get soaked in a shower on rainy days. Allow and encourage your child to observe the beauty of nature by pointing out flowers in the park and talking about all the natural beauty and perfection that surrounds us. This will create an interest in nature and leads to a spiritual connect with nature.
2. Small daily doses of spirituality
Encourage your child to understand about your spiritual beliefs by introducing a small portion of it in your daily life. For example, daily bedtime prayers, a visit to a spiritual place of your choice or singing a prayer song together can help introduce your child to walk on the path of spirituality.
3. Express gratitude
Giving and receiving thanks makes us feel fulfilled as a person and brings happiness in our life. It is one of the ways to feel a spiritual connection with higher powers and people around us. Show your child the value of thankfulness through your words and action. For example, say thanks to God for daily meals and small daily joys, give thanks to household help who make our life easier and so on. As your child sees your actions, he/she will follow in your ways of showing gratitude.
4. Invest in experiences for your child
For your child’s next birthday or celebration, try taking your child for a new experience, such as snowfall in the winters or to a place that will enrich his/her senses and open up the mind to new people and cultures. Invest in experiences, rather than materialistic gifts for your child such as the latest online toy. Experiencing new cultures and environments and appreciating them will develop spirituality in a child.
5. Reflection and introspection
At the end of each day, ask your child the question – ‘What would you have done differently today and why?’, or ‘What is it that you want to improve in yourself?’. Asking your child to take time out for self observation will help him/her analyze his/her behavior and try to improve on it and become a more spiritual and self fulfilled person.
6. Value and respect differences
Everybody is different. A child may feel that a friend who looks or speaks differently than him/her is not likeable or worth respecting. As a parent, you must show your child the importance of respecting differences in appearance or opinions of other people, as a way to develop feelings of empathy and understanding, leading to a spiritual concern for well being of all types of people one encounters.
7. The joy of giving
Sharing and giving brings a sense of contentment and bliss in our life. A child can be encouraged to feel the deep spiritual satisfaction that sharing brings in our lives, through your actions as a parent. A child, who sees his/her parents being generous in actions and behavior, will be naturally encouraged to do the same. Praising your child for generous actions, such as if he/she shares his/her food or toys with friends, will also stimulate positive behavior.
8. Instil a sense of right and wrong
As a parent, you can try to explore situations of fairness and injustice and instil a basic sense of right and wrong in your child. This may be done by reading common moral stories to your child and asking them for their interpretation of the story and the moral of it. Further discussion may be made on situations encountered in daily life such as if you see another child hitting a dog on the road, you can ask your child how that makes them feel and inculcate feelings of fairness and kindness towards people and animals around them.
In a world that is consumed by hate and prejudice, let your child understand the importance of tolerance and love, in everyday situations. He/she may not agree with others, but a gentle and tolerant stance helps us to connect with other people and love them unconditionally. As a parent, showing tolerance towards others through kind words and actions will definitely inculcate a spiritual bent towards others.
Introduce meditation in your child’s life. Give them the choice to join you, without any pressure. If a child feels that he/she is being given freedom to choose his/her path, he/she is more willing to make that choice. As a child begins meditating, a sense of calmness and centeredness develops, leading the path to spiritual growth.
11. Infuse a sense of hope
Hope is the belief that the world can be a better place in the future. A child with hope wishes for a better world and tries to make a positive contribution to society for its improvement. Talk to your child about the problems in society and how these can be changed through the values of empathy, contribution and charity. These values nourish the spiritual growth of a child.
Spirituality inculcated in childhood forms the foundation of a lifetime of contentment and self fulfilment. So start your child early on the journey of spirituality and inner peace!