Spiritual Development in Children

Monday, March 19, 2012

"Grown men may learn from very little children, for the hearts of little children are pure, and, therefore, the Great Spirit may show them many things which older people miss." ~ Black Elk, Native American spiritual teacher Children have a natural curiosity about spiritual matters, and may ask questions that adults don’t know how to answer. My own experience as the Children’s Minister at an Indianapolis church taught me that kids often ask such questions because they already have their own answer in mind. When a child asks you a tough question such as “where do we go when we die?” take a moment to pause. You don’t have to answer that question immediately. Instead, consider responding with: “That’s an interesting question. What do you think is the answer?” Listen carefully; you will learn a lot. Here are some other tips from Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, authors of “Encouraging Children’s Spirituality.” Spiritual practices aren’t just for adults. Children come naturally to many of the time-honored ways that people use to get closer to the sacred; to family, friends, and community; and to the world around them. They can teach adults about being present, enthusiasm, imagination, play, and wonder—to name just a few. Here are some ideas for how parents and other adults can encourage children’s spirituality. • Give thanks before you eat, not just for the food, but also for everything that contributed to your having this meal--the earth, the rain, the sun, the farmer, the store, the cook, even the cooking equipment. Gratitude is an essential spiritual practice. • When watching television or a video, choose a favorite or interesting character and “step into the story” to see how you would act in his or her place. This exercise uses imagination and supports compassion for others and hospitality toward the media. • When doing chores, such as picking up toys or putting away the dishes, imagine that you are returning these things to their homes where they will be more comfortable. Reframing chores in this way teaches reverence for your surroundings, kindness, and nurturing. • Experiment with silence by lying on the ground for 15 minutes without saying anything. Pay attention to what you are thinking about. Then notice the reports of your senses of sight and smell. This is the practice of wonder. • Practice meaning by choosing symbolic names for your home and your room. • Create a party for your pet. Indulge the animal with a favorite treat or activity. Name some of the lessons you have learned from living with this teacher. • At bedtime, identify one good thing and one bad thing that has happened during the day. For children, these are times to practice enthusiasm and forgiveness. For parents, these are opportunities to practice openness and listening. • Have a moon-viewing party, complete with special food and costumes appropriate to the season of the year. Talk about the beauty of the natural world. Then imagine how the moon sees the world, an exercise that teaches connections and the unity of all Creation.

March - Poison Prevention Awareness Month

Monday, March 5, 2012

More than 90 percent of the time, poisonings happen in people’s homes. The majority of these poisonings occur in the kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. That is why it is important to follow simple steps to prevent a poisoning from happening at home. Teach your family to never touch or put anything in their mouths unless they know what it is. Below are additional tips on how to keep poisonous items safe in your home. Remember, if you suspect that you or someone you know has been poisoned, immediately call the toll-free Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center. • Keep medicines in their original containers, properly labeled, and store them appropriately. • Have a working carbon monoxide detector in your home. The best places for a CO detector are near bedrooms and close to furnaces. • Keep products in their original containers. Do not use food containers (such as cups or bottles) to store household cleaners and other chemicals or products. • Some art products are mixtures of chemicals. They can be dangerous if not used correctly. Make sure children use art products safely by reading and following directions. • Do not eat or drink while using art products. • Wash skin after contact with art products. Clean equipment. Wipe tables, desks, and counters. • Keep art products in their original containers. • Wash hands and counters before preparing all food. • Store food at the proper temperatures. Refrigerated foods should not be left out at temperatures above 40 degrees F (5 degrees C). • Use clean utensils for cooking and serving. • Know what poisonous snakes live in your area and wear proper attire (boots, etc.) when hiking outdoors. • Check the label on any insect repellent. Be aware that most contain DEET, which can be poisonous in large quantities. • Be sure that everyone in your family can identify poisonous mushrooms and plants. Remember when it comes to poison ivy, "leaves of three, let it be." If you or someone you know may have been poisoned, call the toll-free line right away at 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center. If the person is not breathing, call 911. Do not wait for signs of a poisoning before calling the Poison Help line. When you call, you will speak with a poison expert at your poison center. From www.poisonhelp.hrsa.gov