Skill #1: Attentiveness: Notice spiritual activity in children.
It occurs most often in the context of everyday life, but don’t overlook its presence here:
- Awe-inspiring activities
- Peace in hard times
- Out-of-control events
- Coincidences and unexplainable events
Skill #2: Active listening: Engage the child in conversation about it.
- Situation 1 Dreams – “As my son was going to sleep he said he was afraid to go to heaven because he didn’t know what it would look like. I told him to ask God to show him while he was asleep. When I followed up two days later he gave me a detailed description. I asked him if it took away his fears, now that he saw it, and he said yes.”
- Situation 2 Awe-inspiring activities: “For me, surfing helps. Just being in nature and contextualizing myself with the ocean as this immortal force, this elemental force. And then doing some sort of mindfulness meditation, I think yoga is a good starting point.”
- Situation 3 Peace in hard times: “I was 6, maybe 7, when my pet cat died. I wanted to know where my cat went, why she couldn’t come back, etc. I was completely satisfied with my parents’ answers of “She went to Heaven.” God is watching over her now.” That’s when I realized there was some other higher being out there. I felt peace. I remember it distinctly. It was peace knowing that there was someone watching and caring for us that we couldn’t see or touch, but they were out there.”
- Situation 4 Out-of-control events: One woman says, “When I was a child in Uganda I remember times when things were out of control and I didn’t expect anything positive to come out of it. My mother helped me recognize God when something good did come out of it.”
- Situation 5 Coincidences and unexplainable events: “My teenage daughter called me to tell me that she had pulled a 10-year-old up from the bottom of the pool where she lifeguards. The next morning she said, ‘I couldn’t sleep last night, Ma. I kept thinking about that girl and what might have happened if I hadn’t rescued her. Nobody noticed she was lying at the bottom of the pool. Not even her own sister who was with her. I just can’t believe what happened.’ And I responded, ‘You did something extraordinary. You should feel incredibly good about yourself.'”
Skill #3: Acceptance: Discern if the child wants information or empathy.
Pay attention to this distinction. Accept it either way and respond accordingly. The child in Situation 3 needs information about her cat. The child in Situation 5 wants understanding.
Tweetable: Good news. We use these same 3 skills with kids to develop either spiritual or emotional intelligence. Click to Tweet