Children are more savvy, observant and intelligent than some adults give them credit for. They have a natural curiosity, are open to new ideas and love learning.
If you have a spiritual household, they are probably already aware of some of the principles you practice and embody. Use the following five tips to introduce children to spiritual concepts in a way that respects their individuality:
1. Lead By Example
Perhaps the most powerful way children learn is by watching what parents and other authority figures do. Leading by example will make the greatest and most long-lasting impact. By practicing spiritual principles in your own life, your children will start to pick them up naturally through “osmosis.”
2. Be Responsive to Questions
As children get older, they will likely start asking questions about some of the aspects of your spirituality. They may begin inquiring about what you are doing when you meditate, or ask about items around the home such as statues, prayer items or other totems. Take these opportunities to give them a mini lesson on a relevant spiritual topic.
3. Introduce Them to Meditation
Older children may want to try meditating with you. Explain to them that meditation makes you feel good, more centered and able to be your true self even when you’re not meditating. Keep sessions very short at first – just a few minutes. Have them observe their own breathing or the sensation within in their hands. With meditation, a little can go a long way; they will experience benefits and love that you included them. This will begin a spiritual practice on a solid foundation.
4. Teach the Fundamental Principles of Your Practice
From Bible verses to basic tenets of Buddhism, there are easy lessons for every age. Even if the more spiritual or esoteric concepts don’t register with them initially, the basic teachings can help form a moral compass that stays with them for a lifetime.
5. Recite The Loving Kindness Prayer Together
The Loving Kindness prayer (Buddhist Metta) is a simple prayer that children will love to recite with you, and it will instill goodness in their hearts toward others. You can begin this practice as soon as they are able to read and then read it aloud together. Your whole family will reap the benefits and good karma of regularly putting loving intentions out into the world.
It’s never too early to expose children to positive concepts and lifestyle habits. Spiritually-minded parents can use these five tips to gently introduce children to spirituality and still leave room for them to form their own opinions and beliefs.