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Children, Religion, and Spirituality: How Faith and Beliefs Shape Young Kids

Children are known to ask a lot of questions, even the most complex ones, which parents can find bewildering, even amusing, at times. However, these deep-rooted questions show that children are perfectly capable of having philosophical thoughts, and ignoring their questions about spirituality, for example, might discourage their curiosity and abstract thinking.

Children of Christian parents might begin asking questions about Jesus, the cross, and God even before they are taught about the Holy Bible in school. Chances are, they heard about Christ in your worship events, and was able to grasp the concept of spirituality from there.

To encourage their spiritual development, you can submit an application to a Christian elementary school in Gilbert, Arizona, and other places, where they can be exposed to a Christ-centered education while growing up. That said, what’s the role of spirituality in child development and how does it shape our kids?

Parents and Religion

Sociologists from the University of Texas at San Antonio researched the impact of religious parents in child development. They found that third-graders who grew up in a religious home expressed better psychological adjustment and interpersonal skills compared to their peers in a non-religious home. However, religious children were also found to be less adept at academic subjects.

John Bartkowski, one of the researchers, said that religion tends to focus more on moral codes, which can affect academic performance. To develop a child’s academic skills, Bartkowski said that religion may be best accompanied by other community resources such as academically-competent schools.

Although Bartkowski also admitted that further research is still needed to find out whether some religions support a better balance between interpersonal skills and academics, the research still exhibited that religion is an important influence for elementary school children.

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Stages of Faith Development

Professor of Child Study at Tufts University, Dr. David Elkind, Ph.D, named three stages of faith development among children. He called the first one “the global stage”, in which young children, usually at 6 or 7, can appreciate religious symbols and rituals, but won’t connect them yet with a god. The second stage, “the concrete stage”, begins usually at 7 to 12 years old, is when a child can start developing a spiritual identity based on their own experiences and religious practices.

Finally, the third and last stage, “the personal connection stage”, occurs at pre-adolescence, in which children can now form a relationship with God.

Dr. Elkind says that spirituality is a natural part of human development. It is simply in our nature to seek the representation of eternity and consistency. He also added that even children who aren’t raised in a religious home will still possess a likelihood for asking spiritual questions.

Reminders for Parents

Children are never “too young” to learn about faith. God may be a conceptual image, but so are kindness and sharing, and yet they learn about them through what they observe in their environments. Likewise, they can also learn about faith by observing religious practices such as prayers.

When a child starts asking about God, it should be treated with regard, even if those questions happen to be in contradiction with your religion’s teachings. Encourage them to express what they think about God and other spiritual matters without judging them.

Most importantly, don’t limit religious practices at church alone. Prayer and worship done at home will enhance your child’s spiritual development further. Other religious practices should also be present at home to have your children exposed to your faith more often. This will help them develop an appreciation for your religious faith and traditions, ultimately solidifying their spiritual beliefs.

And because religions teach kindness, compassion, and love among many others, being spiritually developed with also instil these values on children, making them grow up to be good-natured adults.

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