NATURE KIDS & RAISING A SPIRITUAL KID
Spirituality for kids is needed more today than ever before.
Humanity is in dire need of fewer technology kids and more nature kids as spirituality for kids slides out of fashion and plug sockets become a source of happiness and joy. Children are spending so little time in nature these days that there’s now even a name for it. Nature-Deficit-Disorder. If spirituality plays an important role in your life, and you’re looking for effective ways of raising a spiritual child, nature is your friend.
Bountiful amounts of research show us that nature is a powerful source of personal healing for us all. Spending time in nature is known to help alleviate stress and anxiety, aid depression, reduce anger, and help us balance our mood while calming our nerves and strengthening our immune system.
Spending time in nature also helps to build confidence and enhance creativity by helping to stimulate our brains and senses in a far healthier way than anything we can plug into a socket.
Regardless of age, culture, and condition, nature has something beneficial to offer us all, including our kids. However, spending time in nature offers so much more than only good health. Nature can help parents in raising a spiritual child by offering that child something important. A connection.
PLAYING OUTSIDE COULD MAKE KIDS MORE SPIRITUAL
Research shows that nature kids feel more spiritually connected.
In a study by Professor Gretel Van Wieren, published in the Journal of the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture, it was shown that children who spent significant time outdoors in nature have a stronger sense of self-fulfilment and purpose in life than those who don’t.
In the study, children who played outside between 5 to 10 hours each week reported feeling a spiritual connection with the earth and felt their role was to protect it.
“These values are incredibly important to human development and well-being,” said Gretel Van Wieren, assistant professor of religious studies. “We were surprised by the results. Before we did the study, we asked, ‘Is it just a myth that children have this deep connection with nature?’ But we found it to be true in pretty profound ways.” - https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/playing-outside-could-make-kids-more-spiritual/
The children in this study expressed feelings of peacefulness and some children believed that a higher power had created this natural world around them. Children also reported feeling in awe and humbled by the power of nature, such as with storms, while feeling happy and feeling a sense of belonging in the world.
The study also found that children who played outside regularly had a deep appreciation for beauty, and were more curious, imaginative, and creative.
As part of this study, Professor Van Wieren found that the parents of the children who expressed the strongest spirituality and the highest affinity towards nature also spent significant time outdoors during their childhoods, and many of the parents believed this shaped their lives and spirituality.
Why does spending time in nature have such positive effects?
“It offers a diverse display of colours, sights and sounds; uncertainty; multisensory qualities; and above all, aliveness,” Van Wieren said. “Nature is usually in a state of flux, which fosters problem-solving opportunities that build self-confidence.”
“But we could be in trouble if kids continue their technology habits,” she said.
“This is the first generation that’s significantly plugged in to a different extent and so what does this mean?” Van Wieren said. “Modern life has created a distance between humans and nature that now we’re realizing isn’t good in a whole host of ways. So it’s a scary question: How will this affect our children and how are we going to respond?” - https://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2014/playing-outside-could-make-kids-more-spiritual/
It would appear that not only are nature kids happier kids, but that nature helps kids to develop mentally and emotionally. So spending time in nature should be an important part of every childs life.
SPIRITUALITY IS KEY TO KIDS HAPPINESS
This study noted an important distinction between being spiritual and religious.
In a study published in Springer’s Journal of Happiness Studies, research suggests that spirituality for kids improves happiness, however, religious practices were seen to have a negative effect when raising a spiritual child.
Although studies are showing that having both religious and spiritual beliefs can offer many positive benefits for physical and mental health, these studies focused only on adults. What this study showed is that kids respond differently.
Dr Mark Holder, from the University of British Columbia, stressed that to make kids happier, we need to encourage them to develop a strong sense of self-worth.
This study shows that kids who feel that their lives have value and meaning, and who develop deep, quality relationships, are happier, which are both key measures of spirituality. When it came to religious practices however, it was found that these had little effect on kids happiness.
From the 320 children participating in this study, those children who said they were more spiritual were happier.
According to the authors, "enhancing personal meaning may be a key factor in the relationship between spirituality and happiness." They suggest that strategies aimed at increasing personal meaning in children - such as expressing kindness towards others and recording these acts of kindness, as well as acts of altruism and volunteering - may help to make children happier.
WHAT'S IMPORTANT WHEN RAISING A SPIRITUAL CHILD
How can you help your child to be more spiritual?
As happiness is related to a child’s sense of spirituality, and regularly being in nature helps a child to feel more connected spiritually, it would suggest that kids spending plenty of time in nature will grow to be healthier and happier, while having more meaningful relationships, and a deeper sense of self.
Research has also shown that helping children develop a relationship to a higher power, whether that’s nature, God, or the Universe, helps a child to feel connected to something greater than themselves.
Helping children to be aware that this higher power is a positive guiding force, that's helping to steer them in the right direction, will have profound positive benefits for their personal and spiritual development, both in their youth and later in adult life.
So if you’re set on raising a spiritual child and want to give your child the best possible start in life, take some time every week to explore the many wonders of nature and enjoy these green spaces. It will surely help your child to feel healthier, happier, and better connected to themselves and the world around them.