Everyone around a child – the parent, the teachers, and the educators have the same question in mind that what are the skills that children must possess to succeed and sustain in this complex, globalized, and rapidly changing world.
In 2016, the World Economy Forum published “A List of Skills” that would be required in the 21st century. The skills mentioned in this list were categorized as under – The Intelligent Quotient Skills(IQ skills), The Emotional Quotient Skills (EQ Skills), and The Spiritual Quotient Skills(SQ Skills).
According to Nathawat (2001), “IQ is mandatory for clearing an entrance exam to get admission into any of the renown educational institutions, EQ is essential for achieving success in life and SQ is useful for overall meaningful life.”
Agreeing with western authors like Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall they emphasized that IQ and EQ are an integral part of SQ.
Spiritual intelligence is being given a lion’s share as it is the most important attribute of human beings while IQ and EQ are viewed as an integral part of SQ.
I am going to walk you through the precise 5 strategies through which you can inculcate Spiritual Skills in your child. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, or an educator, these strategies are a must to follow.
WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY FOR YOU?
Spirituality means a sense of connection to something bigger.
Spirituality means Self Awareness.
Spiritual Intelligence means the Ability to know oneself and One’s connection with the entire universe.
“Spirituality is an inner sense of relationship to a higher power that is loving and guiding. The word we give to this higher power might be God, Nature, Spirit, the Universe, the Creator, or other words that represent a divine presence. But the important point is that spirituality encompasses our relationship and dialogue with this higher presence.”-by Lisa Miller, author of the book The Spiritual Child.
SPIRITUALITY AND THE CHILD
“Spirituality is innate in a person and spiritual growth must be nurtured.”- Maria Montessori
Based on the science of Early Brain and Child Development we now know that these skills can be developed far earlier than most of us realize as 80% of brain growth occurs by the age of 3.
Millions of Neurons and their connection are being developed, per second during these early growth years.
It is during the first 6 years that we can utilize this opportunity to intentionally build these skills.
We are biologically “hardwired” for a spiritual connection. Young babies are little scientists scanning, analyzing, and making sense of their environment.
It is the foremost duty of any adult who is a part of a child’s development to make sure that a child’s spiritual growth is nurtured in the right manner.
WHAT SPIRITUALITY MEANS TO A CHILD
When we inculcate spiritual skills in a child, he is:–
⮚ Able to recognize that there is something greater than himself.
⮚ Able to understand that there is something more to just being a human being.
⮚ Able to sense that we are part of a universe or cosmic, that is truly divine in nature.
SKILLS CHILD WILL DEVELOP – THE SPIRITUAL SKILLS
●Has a natural inborn connection to a higher power.
●Has better Self- Control
●Has a sense of PEACE
●Is a CURIOUS child
●More aware and more Grateful
●Has a deep sense of EMPATHY with others’ suffering
●Is a RESILIENT child
●Is an OPTIMISTIC child
●Readiness to give back to society
●Has Good decision making and problem solving skills
According to Dr. Lisa Miller, when spiritual growth is supported children and teens thrive very well but in its absence, it leads to rising rates of depression, substance abuse, and other maladies in young people.
STEP 1 –
“Less is More”- USE DAILY EVENTS TO TEACH SPIRITUALITY
Every parent wonders, as to what limit should they push their kid’s beliefs, values and agendas.. the answer is “Less is More”.
Children need to fall into their own ideologies and visions for themselves, rather than blindly follow other ways of being. They need to discover their own ways which will be more authentic and sustainable.
- Don’t force the child
- Don’t bring FEAR for not performing any spiritual practice
- Don’t be rigid in your approach
Big ideas don’t always require big actions. Demonstrate that spirituality is a part of everyday life. Incorporate it into daily actions and words. For example, When you open the curtains in the morning, you can say “Look at this glorious day Mother Nature has gifted us with”.
At bedtime, you can sign off with “God Bless you “ or with any simple chant.
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD’S SPIRITUAL QUEST
Everyone has questions relating to spirituality. If you ignore your kid’s curiosity, they will assume the topic is not important. There might be a few questions your kid must be wrestling with.
⮚ Honestly answer your child’s questions.
We feed a child’s cognitive growth by allowing them to question. You may not know the answers to many of their questions; however, a curt “I don’t know,” or “Nobody knows” shuts down the conversation. Discussing these very challenging questions is key to your child’s spiritual development.
⮚ Be sure to listen to what your child says.
Alyson Schafer, a parenting expert says especially in the case of talking ABOUT DEATH “It’s easy for them to misunderstand and come to faulty conclusions—like, ‘I touched my Grandpa’s hands, and he had a disease, so now I am going to die.’ You will have to answer questions, clarify, and most importantly, be calm and reassuring when you speak, reflecting that we all ENDURE GRIEF and live with our own mortality.” Share what you believe in an age-appropriate way, and plan to have several conversations about it.
⮚ Don’t Pretend to have all the answers
Dr. Lisa Miller suggests, “YOU DON’T HAVE TO AGREE WITH YOUR CHILD, YOU SIMPLY NEED TO BE INTERESTED, CURIOUS AND OPEN TO HIS EXPLORATION.”
For example, your child may not have the ability to ask or completely understand where people go when they die, but you can still talk about it honestly. If you have a strong belief or reason, share it. If not, it’s okay to admit that you are not aware.
STEP 3 –
MODEL SPIRITUALITY TO YOUR CHILD
The environment plays an important role in developing any skill in a child. Children absorb everything from their environment whether it is good or bad. It is the responsibility of an adult to make sure what the child is absorbing is for his good or not.
Children pay attention not so much to what we can verbally tell them, instead they are absorbing on a deeper level how it is that we embody.
- Regular mindfulness EXERCISES to improved focus and productivity, emotional intelligence, creativity, and innovation, as well as adaptability and flexibility
- Make a schedule for a small Mediation session with the family
- Practice any small spiritual practice together and be consistent in your practices
- Practice love, empathy, and patience with each other
- Practice Gratitude. Say “Thank You “ for little thing
- Be consistent in your practices and let all of these become a natural part of your life
INTRODUCE SPIRITUALITY TO THE CHILD EARLY
- Talk about “higher power”. Discuss the higher power that is loving and guiding. The word we give to this higher power might be God, nature, spirit, the universe, the creator, or other words that represent a divine presence.
- A small child doesn’t understand who is God, but they don’t understand who Grandma is either. Still, if you want them to know who Grandma, you start talking about her from day one. Just as your child will take your word for it that Grandma is an important person in their lives, so they will take your word for it that God is, too.
- Kindness and sharing are abstract concepts that the children can’t see, but they learn about them from seeing others act in a kind way. Similarly, children can learn faith from watching people pray. Let them view spirituality as a normal part of life, have your spiritual influence on them before other people do.
- The early years of life are of utmost importance in spiritual formation. So it must be a time of warmth, faithful attentive love, and a rich initiation into the language and culture of the family.
HELP THEM EXPLORE DIFFERENT CULTURES AND RELIGION
Adopting and exploring cultural and religious differences is also an opportunity to teach kids to consider multiple points of view.
It can be as simple as saying, “Some people, like your grandparents, believe in X; other people, like your friend Samson, believe in Y. But what do you think?” This strategy will not at all confuse the child rather he/she will enjoy. Your child will learn to observe similarities between faiths and people.
- Let your child get involved in religious or different cultural activities in school and with their friends.
- Sharing stories with them at school and at home. The world’s spiritual traditions are full of stories designed to explain everything from how the world was created to why people sometimes do bad things.
Indian Mythological stories, short stories from Bhagwat Gita can be a great window to introduce spirituality to the child.
Reading stories to your child will give them the opportunity to think and ask more questions.
Grandparents are a great way and support for children to help them in their spiritual journey
INSTILL AN APPRECIATION FOR NATURE
- Children learn through all their senses. The more close a child is with nature the more he/she will embrace it.
- Help your child see nature as something precious by demonstrating your own love and respect for it.
- Plan nature walks with family and in school with friends
- Plant a garden with your child and make it a part of daily routine to nurture and take care of plants.
- Clean yourself and your environment so that children can learn the importance of taking care of his/her surroundings.
- Introduce them to Mother Earth. Tell your child that earth is a planet we live on and our survival depends upon the survival of the planet.
- Teach a child to be empathetic to all the living creatures
Final thoughts –
6 conscious steps are crucial in the development of a child.
Family and Adults in the environment play a very important role in developing spiritual skills in a child. And it is very much evident from the many scientific studies that every child is born with this innate sense of spirituality we adults only need to nurture this by providing a good environment and the right ways.
Hope this blog post has added value to your life.
Let’s nurture a child as a whole by nurturing his/her Mind, Body, and Soul.