Until about the age of six, children do not generally have the aptitude to think in abstract terms. But they do have an imagination, and they do fantasize... it is just that they reduce or compare the fantasy to something real that they can comprehend. If they fantasize about a "universal mind" or a "universal being" or God then they usually conjure up an image that is real to them.
Then, until about twelve, it is the family traditions and their observations of family faith that are the motivations for their spiritual thinking. This is the age... from about six to twelve... that family values of Right Action and moral behavior have the most profound influence on spiritual values. That is why it is so difficult for children from dysfunctional homes or broken marriages to craft their adult belief systems easily.
By the teenage years, spirituality has been established, sometimes unbeknownst to the teen! For those from well grounded homes, spirituality is evident... through both words and behaviors. But many teens that are not subject to daily demonstrations of faith do, never the less, manage to evolve as spiritual beings. It is, after all, an inherent legacy in us all.
So, empowering children with Spirit is an adult quest to which we should all aspire. It means recognizing that children at an early age, when they are only able to think in concrete terms, be empowered with the real visions that they can comprehend. It means answering questions and allowing them to express their ideas. It mean encouraging good thoughts and discouraging mean spirited ideas and actions.
Abstracted from the book "Empowering Children." If you want to read more, see:
Dr. Malkin holds a B.Sc. in Business and a Masters and Ph.D. in Religion. He has made hundreds of visits to schools with a moving and effective motivational presentation, urging teens to do their personal best. His mentoring programs have empowered many, many children. His quest for years has been to teach the power of Right Action, working towards the goal of a better world.