Research shows that childhood spiritual moments are commonplace. And why wouldn’t they be? Children are spiritual beings. Having a sophisticated vocabulary or the capacity to intellectualise philosophical concepts does not equate to being spiritually attuned. A child may be religion-less and voiceless and yet be a living, breathing expression of the life-force.
In many ways, children are more receptive than adults to the subtleties of the non-material world which surround and permeate the material world. They are often receptive to spiritual communication and paranormal phenomena until they are taught to disregard or suppress their natural instincts and perceptions.
However, as adults, we can play an important role in the spiritual lives of children. We can encourage their independence and personal development. We can be respectful listeners when they share with us their intimate spiritual experiences. We can be open-minded enough to accept their unique worldview without having the need to alter them.
What spiritual experiences do children have?
Children have a broad spectrum of spiritual experiences, just as adults do, which can occur at any age, and under many different circumstances. A child may be in good health when the experience occurs, or they may be sick, injured or dying. It may be one experience they have or more. Whatever the cause, intensity or duration of the experience, research shows they are not dreams, fantasies, hallucinations or delusions but real experiences. In fact, a child may tell you, they are realer than real!
- Memories of life that pre-dates their current lifetime like being in heaven and waiting to come to earth; living and learning in the spiritual realm(s); having spiritual relationships like spiritual teachers or spiritual family; having far greater capabilities before being born
- Memories of their past lives on earth
- Memories of life inside their mother’s womb
- Out-of-body experience (OBE)
- Encounters with the divine light or light beings like angels, religious figures, and beings from other planets
- Communications with deceased loved ones like a grandparent or a sibling
- Near-death experience (often triggered by physical, psychological or emotional crisis)
- Extrasensory perceptions
- Visions, sounds, and scents of heaven
- Automated creativity
For more info on spiritually transformative experiences click here.
What to do when a child shares their spiritual experience
A spiritual experience can feel completely natural to a child and they may not even think to bring it up in conversation with you, or not immediately. They may think everyone can see a dazzling light as they go off to sleep, or rainbow colours around people, or hear nanna talking to them at playtime (even though she’s been deceased for a while).
On the other hand, a child may recognise they have experienced something remarkable or supernatural and want to share it with you, and perhaps with others too. Or they may be awfully frightened and confused by the event and want to feel protected and have their safety reassured.
It’s really important for adults, and especially parents, teachers, nurses, and doctors, to take a child seriously when they share a spiritual or paranormal experience. Don’t criticise or denounce the reality of it, even if what is being said clashes with your point of view, otherwise, it may result in anxiety and depression for the child, now or in later years.
If you as the parent are able to listen deeply to your child and pay regular attention to how the experience affects them over time, you will be able to determine what assistance your child may need in integrating the experience.
Often a spiritual experience is fantastic and a child will want to share it. However, it can be really difficult to put the immense power and splendour of God and heaven, for instance, into words. It may take a child time to process the enormity of what has transpired. Therefore, it is beneficial to ask questions in a casual manner, at different times, without bombarding them.
Helpful tips for supporting your child:
- Listen to the child when they tell you about their experience
- Ask them questions to show that you are interested
- Accept what they are telling you as being real for them
- Assure them they are safe and loved
- Assure them their experience is natural and lots of other people have them too
- Ask them to draw a picture representing their experience
- Ask them to make a collage representing their experience
- Ask them to write about their experience
- Ask them to write a poem or song about their experience
- Ask them to choose books to read, or films to watch with you representing their experience
- Ask them if they would like to speak to someone else who has had a similar experience
- Let them know they can share this and any future experience they may have with you, at any time
If you feel your child is not coping well with their experience, for instance, they become withdrawn or preoccupied, then seek further help from a health care professional who is open to spiritual experiences. Don’t expose your child to anyone who is dismissive of their reality. Do your research online. There are many websites and blogs on the topic. Go to sites like IANDS, NDERF or ACISTE and see what is suggested there for support groups and counselling. There is support available for your child and family.
If you are a parent or a caregiver of a child who has had a near-death experience or near-death-like experience, I strongly recommend you take a look at the information provided by the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) website about children’s NDEs and after-effects. You can do so by clicking here. You may also like to visit Dr. PMH Atwater’s website here. She is an NDE authority and has extensively researched and written on children’s spiritual experiences.
I hope this post is helpful to anyone who cares for children regularly be it a parent, grandparent or teacher. If something has been particularly helpful in assisting your child deal with their spiritual experience, please share it with us in the comment box below.