Introducing spirituality to your children can be a bit tricky. Some concepts are harder for younger kids to understand fully, and older kids (like teenagers) are usually developing their own ideas and might have some strong opinions about this newfound piety. Whatever the case may be, there are still ways to introduce spirituality to your kids without stepping on toes or making things too complex to understand.
In this guide, we’ll cover seven simple ways to introduce spirituality to children.
1. Bible Bedtime Stories
Reading bedtime Bible stories is a great way to introduce God and the idea of spirituality to younger kids. They’ll get attached to characters and the incredible stories of God’s limitless power. Stories like Noah’s Flood invoke wonder at God’s power and commitment to discipline, and other stories help inspire empathy, devotion, and caring in your children.
There are hundreds of Bible bedtime stories to choose from that can appeal to all ages. Adults still read the Bible and meditate on its passages before bed! It’s a great idea to sit down with your child, read a story, and most importantly, discuss what you read. What lessons can be learned? What did we learn about God through this story? How did the character change or react to God’s plan?
2. Pray With Them
Children tend to gravitate toward their parents’ rituals, so it can be pretty easy to introduce things like prayer into the fold early on. Praying with your kids can bring the family closer, and help introduce the concept of prayer at an age where it will stick. It’s a bit more difficult to get teenagers or adolescents to keep with prayer if it’s a new concept, but a habit rooted in early childhood can potentially stick around for life.
Be sure to teach them your favorite prayers and explain what they mean or what they’re meant to ask for. Encourage the kids to ask questions, and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know” if you really don’t know the answer. You can always look it up or ask your spiritual leader!
3. Attend Spiritual Or Religious Gatherings
If you want to introduce spirituality to your children, going to church or other religious gatherings can be a way to do so indirectly. Often, kids will resist flat-out declarations like “You must believe in this”. It’s far easier to instead create a habit that they will remember, and keeping with your religious services is a good habit to reinforce.
Let’s be honest—none of us is as good at keeping with church as we’d like to be, but kids can also help hold us accountable. They might start asking why you’re not going to church today, and well…good luck answering that! The best thing to do is stick with it and make it something they’ll easily recognize.
4. Share Your Own Experiences
There are more ways we can use storytelling to invoke devotion and wonder among children. Telling of your own experiences with spirituality can be a powerful method of reinforcing your points and introducing a belief system. Your kids will learn through your eyes, via your experiences, which can help the spirituality feel more real, grounded, and relatable.
Tell of a time when you felt uncertain but your faith guided you through. Or, tell of a time when you resisted temptation. There are lessons to be had in your experiences, and if you tell a story in such a way, it’s one the kids will never forget.
5. Set The Example
The saying, “Do as I say, not as I do” is often thrown around by parents as a scapegoat for accountability. The bottom line is that your kids are watching your every move, and are far more likely to pick up on your habits and behaviors than to listen to disciplinary instructions. The bottom line? Set a good example of spirituality if you want your kids to follow suit.
This means going to church consistently, praying consistently, etc. The biggest thing is consistency. Without it, you’re missing the mark, and your kids might pick up on the same bad habits.
6. A Mentor
Another effective method you can use is to introduce your kids to a spiritual mentor of some kind. This could be a spiritual leader at your church, or maybe even a grandparent or other relative who is wise in the ways of your faith. This person can act as a sort of guide, showing the child important lessons in a different way than even you can as a parent.
Sometimes, lessons just don’t stick when they come from mom and dad. This doesn’t make you a bad parent, it just means that you might need some extra help. Either way, you should familiarize your children with spiritual leaders in your family or organization.
7. Celebrate With Them
Let your kids know when you’re proud of them for their spiritual accomplishments. This will help reinforce their understanding that you have faith in what they’re doing, as well as reinforce their belief in their spirituality. Milestones are especially good times for celebration, but you don’t have to even do anything extravagant.