If you are someone currently helping children develop their souls, seven warning signs can tell you if you’re tilting off course. Run through this list periodically and consider which areas might be interfering in the child’s spiritual development or sending negative messages.
- Spiritual sharing that is not age-appropriate or personality-appropriate (i.e. scaring or confusing children).
- Modeling behaviors that are different from we teach children to do (i.e. not practicing what we preach).
- Refusing to admit our own mistakes, hiding our faults, blaming others (i.e. lack of honesty and taking responsibility).
- Assuming that young children aren’t interested in learning about God (i.e. silence on the subject of God).
- Waiting to talk with children about God until they have done something wrong (i.e. creating feelings of guilt and judgment around God).
- Teaching by our actions that many other things in life are more important than God and spirituality (i.e. ignoring God and prioritizing other areas of life–sports, activities, hobbies, romantic relationships, social events)
- Forcing children to agree with whatever we think about God (i.e. forgetting that a child has the right to make up his or her own mind).
If you’re thinking that’s a lot to remember and be responsible for, you’re not alone. Helping children develop spiritually is not a one-person job. Fortunately, you can turn to resources outside the family like the connection with a faith community.