The happiness of children has become one of the main preoccupations of scientists and educators in recent times. The evidence that increasing numbers of children are unhappy, and the fear that they may grow up to be miserable and unproductive adults, has even driven some scientists to look again at the influence of religion, or “spirituality”, on children’s happiness. University of British Columbia researcher Mark Holder and colleagues studied 320 children aged 8 to 12 from four public schools and two faith-based schools and found that those children who said they were more spiritual were happier.

When a child had an understanding of the meaning and value of their life, and had good interpersonal relationships, they were much more likely (up to 27 per cent) to be happy. Temperament was also an important factor in happiness, but even when it was taken into account, the link between spirituality and happiness remained strong. Strangely, religious practices such as going to church, praying and meditating had little effect on a child’s happiness.

The researchers conclude that interpersonal relationships are the key to personal meaning, or spirituality, and they suggest that expressing kindness towards others and recording these acts of kindness, as well as acts of altruism and volunteering, may help to make children happier. ~ Science Daily, Jan 12

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet