Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spirituality Makes For Happier Children

Medical experts have long established a connection between adult spirituality, and happiness. Recent studies have connected spirituality to longevity in life and the enhanced ability to cope with adversity and illness. Now, similar benefits are being observed in children as well.

A recent study indicates that spirituality determines how happy children are, according to a recent study by Dr. Mark Holder, University of British Columbia in Canada and colleagues Dr. Ben Coleman and Judi Wallace. Their research shows that children who feel that their lives have meaning and value and who develop deep, quality relationships - both measures of spirituality - are happier.

Both spirituality (an inner belief system that a person relies on for strength and comfort) and religiousness (institutional religious rituals, practices and beliefs) have been linked to increased happiness in adults and adolescents. In contrast, very little work has been done on younger children. In an effort to identify strategies to increase children's happiness, Holder and colleagues set out to better understand the nature of the relationship between spirituality, religiousness and happiness in children aged 8 to 12 years. A total of 320 children, from four public schools and two faith-based schools, completed six different questionnaires to rate their happiness, their spirituality, their religiousness and their temperament. Parents were also asked to rate their child's happiness and temperament.

The studies reached a number of key conclusions. They suggest that strategies aimed at increasing personal meaning in children - such as expressing kindness towards others and recording these acts of kindness, as well as acts of altruism and volunteering - may help to make children happier.

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