Shining Lights in Unexpected Corners: new angles on young children’s spiritual development



International journal of children's spirituality.

This article considers how an inclusive understanding of young children’s spiritual development can be enriched by research within the psychoanalytic tradition and cognitive psychology. I discuss difficulties of language and definition and suggest that thinking of spiritual experience as a type of experience rather than of spirituality or spiritual development may be helpful. Rather than working from a pre-determined definition, I argue that the meaning of spiritual experience is illuminated by considering a wide range of children’s maturational and developmental needs and considering the boundaries of what may coherently be included as spiritual experience. In exploring research within these two traditions I suggest the integration of the personality as an end-point of spiritual experience which avoids a linear, upward idea of spiritual development. Finally, I consider the implications for research, about spiritual experience itself and for children and their teachers.


Photo of Tony Eaude

Dr Tony Eaude

Executive Committee Member

Taylor & Francis

Journal number: