In the hectic rush of daily life, how do you integrate the gift of spirituality into the lives of your children? As you juggle between school, tuitions, birthday parties, sports practice and guitar lessons, how do you find the time to teach and encourage your children to develop a spiritually strong core? How do you instil faith that can help them navigate through the toughest storms of life?

You can start by simply being mindful of the opportunities that your daily life presents, without getting embroiled in complex rituals. Here are 10 simple ways to get started.

1. Clarify your own beliefs

Whether or not you practice an organized religion, you need to decide what you “believe in,” in order to nurture spirituality in your child. Do you believe in God? Do you believe in a Higher Power? How was the world created? Is there someone watching over us? Do you believe in karma, hell or heaven? What happens when a person dies? Do you want your child to follow a particular faith and visit a certain prayer house? If you and your partner have different belief systems, it’s wise to decide early on as to which faith the child will follow. If you chose to bring them up in a multi-faith home, give them equal and unbiased exposure to them all.

2. Introduce spirituality at an early age

Whatever your belief systems may be, it’s wise to introduce spiritual practices early on in life, be it praying, lighting incense or candles, or sitting quietly and talking to God. These practices will then become a natural part of your child’s life. Don’t wait too long to share your thoughts on spirituality with your child because no matter what you do, she will hear about God soon enough, so it’s better she understands it from you.

3. Don’t be afraid of not having all the answers

It is alright to not have an answer to every question your child has. If your child asks where God lives and what s/he looks like, answer honestly and in accordance with your belief. You could say God lives in the skies, or inside every living being. And when you don’t know what to say, it’s okay to say that people spend their whole lives trying to figure out that answer, and that maybe you’ll figure this out together.

4. Show your child spirituality in daily life

Each day is sprinkled with examples of spirituality. Make your child notice and appreciate them – in birds and animals. Point out a beautiful sunset, the moon and stars. Show her how to enjoy the rain, a cool breeze. Introduce different music into her life.  Help her understand the absolute wonder of food. Create small celebrations and rituals that will make loving, lasting memories to nourish her soul.

5. Let your child see and respect divinity in nature

There is no purer, more tangible manifestation of Divinity than in nature itself. Teach your child to love, protect and respect nature. Be it animals, plants or any other form. Introduce the idea of the earth and nature being our most precious gift, the heart of the Higher Power or God itself. And essential for our survival. Teach her not to pollute, tell her how wasting paper amounts to cutting more trees, and introduce the concept of recycling at home. If you have a garden, teach her to sow and nourish plants. Involve her in taking care of your pet. Hang a water bowl for birds and let her fill it every day. Teach her kindness towards strays. Maybe depute her to collect waste food for them.

 6. Use stories and teach tolerance

Storytelling is a powerful way to introduce various concepts of right and wrong, and good and bad. Every spiritual tradition has loads of stories that can help you do that, whilst also subtly introducing the concept of a Higher Power. Read these together with your child.  Let her ask questions and don’t shy away from introducing stories from other faiths.   Consciously control your religious bias, if any, to negatively influence your child against other belief systems. It’s your responsibility to plant the seeds of tolerance and respect for diverse faiths in your child’s mind.

 7. Help you child find a metaphor

God is an abstract concept for children. They need a metaphor for it. Something they can see or easily imagine. You may choose to give them an ornament or an image that reflects your belief system. However, what can be even more empowering is to help her identify a simple image that she can associate with God. Something she can think of, no matter where she is or what she is doing. Like a cloud, water, a flower or the sun. This way, she can simply close her eyes and think of this symbol that helps her connect with the Divine.

8. Encourage her to communicate with God in her own way

Instil the practice of a simple prayer in the daily life of your child. Encourage her to communicate freely, independently, and regularly with God. Let her know that she can talk about anything, without fear, for God will understand. She can also talk any time, and as many times. Teach her that God is her friend, one who is always there for her, to help her as long as she helps herself, and that every communication should not be to ask for something, but even more to express gratitude.

 9. Unravel the gift of silence and stillness

Teach your child that God lives in silence and stillness and encourage her to sit quietly every day for at least ten minutes. This will help her cut off from the non-stop noise and stimuli of her daily routine. It will help her recharge, reflect, and calm their mind. You can then slowly introduce the practice of meditation and make it something you can do together.

10. Be creative and have fun

For some reason, people get very serious when it comes to spirituality, even though the essence of it is about joy and light heartedness. So, loosen up, get creative and have some fun with your child. Encourage her to make up a story about God, draw a portrait,  write a letter or make a song that you can sing and dance to.

Finally, remember the bedrock of spiritual parenting is providing your child with a happy, nourishing and secure environment at home. It’s believing that she’s special simply for being who she is. It’s knowing that she is a gift from God, and that you are responsible not only for her mind and body, but also for her soul.

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