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Spiritual Development in Young Children

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr, studioD

Sharing your faith with your little ones is a part of their early education. An early spiritual foundation sets the stage for a lifelong faith. Your little one might accept your faith as a pattern for hers now. As she matures, however, accept that she might question what you believe, do some searching of her own and adapt her faith to suit her beliefs on the foundation you started when she was still in diapers.

Family Faith Practices

Some families get together regularly to express their faith at home, which builds a strong faith foundation for your child. You could read passages from the Bible or other sacred scriptures, pray together, do spiritual crafts and talk about what your faith means to you. While your child is young, focus on the basics such as how you see God and how you live out your faith. You could do service projects together, including packing up sandwiches for a homeless shelter or buying Christmas gifts for a needy family to emphasize how you see your obligation to put your faith in action. Most importantly, be a faith-filled role model for your child. Spiritual faith should be something you do all the time, not just on Sundays or at church. Treat your family and others with respect, love unconditionally, share and find ways to make a difference in your world.


Young children enjoy stories, and you can use stories to help your child understand your faith. You could give your little one a children’s Bible storybook that you use during family devotions or read spiritual picture books at bedtime. You could tell your child about how you experienced faith when you were a child or experiences you had when you felt God was close. Use stories that emphasize the character traits you want your child to have so he begins to build a moral foundation for faith.

Spiritual Music

Children enjoy music and you can use songs to teach your child about faith. Simple songs for kids such as “Jesus Loves Me” or “God is so Good” offer your child the opportunity to get involved in a spiritual practice. Teach your child simple hand signs or motions to go with the song, or let her dance. Drums and rhythm instruments also allow your child to get fully involved in sharing spiritual music.

Spiritual Support

If your house of worship has classes or programs for young children, get your child enrolled and help out when you are able. Your child could act out stories from sacred scriptures, participate in craft projects, watch puppet shows or videos that illustrate spiritual truths, sing in a children’s choir or take part in a children’s drama to learn about his faith in active ways. You could get some fun and practical suggestions for use at home and give your child an opportunity to share faith exploration with his peers.

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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