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Tobin Hart

In: The Handbook of Spiritual Development in Childhood and Adolescence

Chapter 12: Spiritual Experiences and Capacities of Children and Youth

Edited by: Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Pamela Ebstyne King, Linda Wagener & Peter L. Benson

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412976657.n12

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Spiritual Experiences and Capacities of Children and Youth
Spiritual experiences and capacities of children and youth

There is a growing body of evidence that children have spiritual capacities and experiences—moments, both little and large, that shape their lives in enduring ways. These varied experiences reveal a rich and significant spiritual life that has gone largely unrecognized in the annals of child development and yet may provide one of the most fundamental sources of human motivation. The evidence of these experiences and innate capacities challenges conventional views of childhood spiritual life and therefore has significant implications for the care and nurture of young people both within and outside of religious contexts.

Yet it has often been difficult for adults to recognize this spiritual life. Traditionally, developmental theory has ...

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