Nurturing your Childs Spirit

As parents, we know that there is a regime we can follow to optimize our children’s physical well-being. We can provide them with nutritious food and encourage healthy eating practices. We can become their number one cheerleader as they excel in a variety of fun and challenging sporting endeavours. We can ensure that they get sufficient sleep – tucked away, cozy and safe for that essential rest and restoration. Encouraging exercise, fresh air, nourishing food and rest helps us feel comfortable that we are looking after the physical needs of our children.

Another dimension of our work as parents is to nurture and encourage our children’s spirit. The Canadian English Dictionary defines spirit as “the life principle animating body; disposition; liveliness; courage; frame of mind; essential character or meaning; soul; ghost; liquid got by distillation.” So leaving ghosts and distilled liquid out of the picture, we can think about the child’s spirit as that which gives the child their “essential character or meaning, their life principle”.

In some families, organized religion plays an important role in assisting with the nurturing of children’s spirits. Other families create their own unique teachings based on their values, traditions and beliefs. There are a multitude of ways to accomplish this important task. Here is a small list of possibilities which you can post on your fridge and you, your partner, children, friends or relatives can add your own insights.

Ten Ways to Nurture Your Child’s Spirit:

  1. Spend time with your children. The notion of quality time being more important that quantity time is a bit of a stretch. Quality time and quantity time go hand in hand. It’s your presence, not the presents that count.
  2. Hold them, hug them, kiss them – kids need to feel loved. Really listen to your child when s/he is speaking, even if it means turning off the TV, radio or computer.
  3. Let your child know, from day one, that they are loved unconditionally. As they get older, explain what unconditional love is all about.
  4. Teach your child the art of appreciation and gratitude. Start or end the day with a thanks-giving ritual where each person, individually or together, reflect on what they are grateful for and what/whom enriches their life.
  5. Give your kids a moral compass. Help them to recognize what they value, allow them to make choices and encourage them to stand up for what they believe in.
  6. Incorporate rituals in your child’s life. Mealtime rituals, bedtime rituals, family rituals, birthday and holiday rituals – this is frequently the basis for important memories which last a lifetime.
  7. Introduce your child to the wonders of nature. Get up early for a sunrise, stay up late to go walking under a full moon. Nature is free. It is the best expression of the abundance and creativity of the life force.
  8. Introduce them to music, art and dance. Art galleries are full of inspiring creations (who needs a gallery – art is everywhere). Music is always available whether you whistle, hum a few bars or play a sonata. Dance is a form of movement that can encourage freedom, energy, enthusiasm and laughter.
  9. Encourage your child to create – play dough, crayons, building blocks, writing – any medium that allows a child to be expressive and feel productive is great for the spirit.
  10. Give your child freedom to make mistakes. In fact, welcome mistakes as an important learning experiences and growth opportunities.

Any parent who holds their baby moments after birth can attest to the magnificence of creation; holding a new baby in one’s arms is a link to a miracle. That little life is infused with all the power and creative force of the universe. Let us invite that sense of awe and wonderment, which we experience at the birth of our child to be a constant companion as we journey through parenthood.

Let’s slow down enough to remind ourselves of the amazing nature of life on this planet. As parents, we need to nurture our own spirits by doing what we love, being creative, spending time in nature and taking time to connect with our own higher power on a regular basis.

Nurturing your child’s spirit involves reminding children of their unique nature and allowing them to be a “work in progress”. When we are cognizant of the beauty of our children, we can’t help but remember our own beautiful nature.

It takes courage to focus on the “whole” child – the physical, moral, emotional, social, psychological and spiritual sides within each of our children. We cannot do it all perfectly but we can celebrate daily the uniqueness and wisdom of ourselves and our children as we attempt to ensure that we meet the variety of needs each child presents.

A Child’s SpiritEnergy in Free-flow
Loving, Open, Vulnerable
Filled with Curiosity and Awe
Wonder and a Belief in Magic
Dancing in Pyjamas
And Building Rockets to the Stars
Creation in Motion
Imagination Unrestrained
Love Let Loose on the World

Joan Traversy

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The Summer Day

Mary Oliver

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.