How to Introduce Spirituality to Your Toddler

"Spirituality" is a term that generally refers to the values and meanings by which people live. It is a connection to something higher and bigger than the individual and also a connection to the deepest, most authentic parts of the individual.

Introducing these concepts to children from a young age is a great way to create a foundation of emotional literacy and self-awareness that will carry them throughout the life cycle.

Here are some ways to introduce spiritual concepts to young children:

We Are All Connected

Our words and actions have the power to effect others both positively and negatively. We live in a world with ecosystems, food chains, seasons, and moon cycles. Connectivity is in every aspect of our lives, and our connections to others and to the world help us to define who we are as individuals.

Notice the small and big ways this is true in your daily life.

For example, in my family, we try to spend as much time in nature as possible. This means heading out to one of several local parks every weekend, trips to the beach in the summer, and time in the grass after dinner.  We also read books and discuss the lessons or morals that we gleaned from them. We discuss how the characters might have felt and imagine how we would feel if we were in the same situation.

Create Family Rituals

Special breakfasts on Sundays, going outside and observing the full moon, and taking a yearly trip to the lake are all simple rituals that give us something to look forward to, ground us, and create a sense of meaning and belonging. They don't have to be fancy or expensive. The important thing is that they have a specific time and/or place and/or activity associated with them.

In our house, the kids are usually up by 5:30 AM and we like to go outside and look at the moon before breakfast. We discuss the weather and what phase the moon is, and it's a small fun way to discuss what's going on in the world around us that day.

To celebrate my family's Jewish cultural roots, I make latkes every year during Hanukkah, and every year, they turn out terribly. When fall hits, we make a family of scarecrows to put on the porch.

We don't do anything big or fancy or Pinterest-worthy, but we do things that reflect us, that are fun, and that remind us of our place in the larger picture.

Set an Evening Per Week Aside for Review, Planning, and Gratitude

As our kids are four years and eleven months, extensive discussion of the previous and upcoming weeks is something we have not really fully implemented at this time, but I look forward to building in the coming years. Here are some ideas I have for what this will look like:

  • Discuss what could have gone better in the previous week and why
  • Discuss what will make next week great
  • Review family goals
  • Review the family calendar and identify upcoming holidays and other things to look forward to
  • Affirm who you are as individuals and as a unit
  • Take time for gratitude and appreciation for the people, places, and things you love in your lives

For more information about how you can integrate more meaning and ritual in your family's life, call me at 973-769-2401 or email amy.beth.acker@gmail.com