Children and Spirituality

There is a widespread acceptance today within the academic study of spirituality and other disciplines that spirituality is a natural human predisposition, an innate and dynamic human trait. Yet, until recent decades, it was commonly accepted that spirituality required a well-developed cognitive capacity and hence lay beyond the reach of young children. However, it is now widely accepted within the field of children’s spirituality that children do have an innate capacity for spirituality which manifests itself in spiritual experiences in the course of their ordinary, everyday lives, even if they may lack the ability to adequately verbalize their experience.

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Spirituality in children arises from within, from their own existence and experience, and is enlivened by their capacity for ‘infinite openness’.

Children experience spirituality as profoundly relational, identifying ‘relational consciousness’ as a core characteristic of children’s spirituality—in other words, children have an innate capacity for relationship which is the foundation of their relationship with themselves, with others, with all of creation and with God. Other characteristics include a capacity for joy, wonder and awe, an aptitude for imaginative wondering and a desire for identity, meaning and purpose.

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