The other day, it occurred to me that, if I want Jake and Thomas to know how tune into their higher selves, to hear God’s wisdom within them, I’d have to be the one to teach them how. Presumably it’s easier to do this while they’re young and still somewhat tuned-in, before they are taught to let rationality and logic be their chief decision-makers. I thought that teaching our children how to use their intuition would be a good topic for a Nurturing Little Souls post but that I would have to write it later because I’m only just beginning to learn how to listen myself. So I made a few notes on the topic and slipped the page into my notebook “for later”.
The next morning, while I was preparing lunchboxes, Jake came to me and asked “How does God talk to you?”. “I don’t know! I haven’t written that post yet!” my mind paniced. But I wanted to seize the synchronistic moment so tried to just allow my responses to come to me, to let my intuition do the work. I told Jack that, when God talks to me, I get a feeling that I really want or should do something. Jake considered this for a moment, skipping around the kitchen, then asked whether God is in the air, gesturing at the space in front of him. He seemed to be wondering how could he hear God if he can’t see Him, if it doesn’t look like He’s there to talk with? We talked about God being everywhere, including in the air around us. It was a rather scattered conversation but Jake wrapped it up with his beautiful wisdom by saying, “God speaks to your heart”. I replied, “Yes, you listen with your heart, instead of your ears”. So it turned out that I didn’t need to know the answers about how God talks to us – Jake knew already. Our conversation was simply to help him process what he knew, to bring it to light.
SO, WHAT IS INTUITION?
I experience intuition as a sense of knowing that can’t be explained. When intuiting, we are knowing not through logic, but through God. We are using our higher intelligence, not our brains. When we sense something through our intuition, we don’t give a reason for it, we “just know”, it “feels right”, we “just have to”. Intuition is the voice of God within us, although we sense it rather than hear it.
HOW CAN WE HELP OUR CHILDREN ACCESS THEIR INTUITION?
If we are to explore spiritual ideas, such as intuition, with our children, they need to have words to access the ideas we are discussing. I think it is helpful to try and use the language our children use, at least initially. With Jack, I could ask “what is God telling your heart?” when helping him to listen to God’s guidance because these are the words he has given me. Over time, I can build his vocabulary by tacking on a rephrasing eg. “What is God telling your heart? What does your intuition tell you?”
People access their intuitive abilities in different ways. I can’t address all of the possibilities here, only what I am familiar with at this early point in my intuitive journey. As time goes by, I hope to recognise which ways come easiest to me and which ways come easiest to Jake and Thomas so that we can use our intuition for guidance. In the following paragraphs, I will share some ideas for first steps in helping our children to connect with their intuition during their everyday experiences.
Value their Intuition To have the confidence to use their intuition, children need to feel that it is valued and that they’re encouraged to use it. Myself, I have almost always made decisions based on thorough rational examination. I grew up in a world that seemed to demand that any move I make be explainable to others with good reasons. I know better now and am beginning to make decisions more intuitively because I know it’s a wise way to make them. I want Jake and Thomas to know that intuition is a valid tool for guiding their lives.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do to value our children’s intuition is to allow them to use it. If we jump into their day with constant messages to be careful, responsible, realistic…we are interfering with their ability to tune into their guidance system with all of our noise. We are encouraging them to use rationality over intuition. As you call out “be careful of the…”, think how necessary it really is. If you’re about to say “muddy puddle”, stop yourself. If you’re about to say “4-lane motorway”, go ahead. When we let our children make lots of their own decisions in their own way, they get the opportunity to test out different decision-making processes, including following their intuition. They will get to know which processes have lead to outcomes that work well for them.
We won’t usually be able to see for ourselves how our children have reached a decision but we may sometimes be able to reflect with them on how they made it in order to bring them to greater awareness of their processes (depending on their age). We may ask, “Did you think about it with your brain or did you feel it with your heart?” As they get older, we may find that they are able to give us more detail about their decision-making process, including any conflict they experienced between, say, intuition and rationality. By doing this, we help them to recognise which approach they used and to consider how well it worked as a decision-making strategy.
I am not anti-rationality. I think it’s a God-given function of our brain, useful for dealing with many of the practicalities of life. For many decisions we make in a day, we have no particular intuitive reading and a rational decision is a good one. But, for me, when I do get a message from God, I’m listening to Him, not my brain. If our children have made a brain-based decision despite having a sense within that it wasn’t right, I think it’s important to be gentle with them. They have not made a mistake. They have not upset God (He’s never upset with us). They are not bad decision-makers. It is simply a learning experience.
Ask Questions When a child has an issue or decision to work through that they wish to involve us in, the questions we use to help them are important. They need to direct the child inward, to their sense of what feels right and the questions also need to be open to allow any answer. “What does your heart tell you?” or “what do you feel?”, for example. Here, we are not asking them to “think” about the situation, a conversation about pros and cons etc, for example, would only put their thoughts at the forefront and likely drown out their intuitive knowing. If a head-led discussion is required, it would probably be better had at a separate time.
Presence & Stillness I’m starting to sound like a broken record on the topic of presence and stillness. But I really do think we all need quiet time to hear our intuition. As the primary organisers of our children’s day, I think it is essential to organise some unstructured time they can spend by themselves if they choose to. In a day, there will be a lot of decisions they are making and issues they are sorting through that we are not aware of. Providing them with regular down time allows them the calm they may need to do this.
It is currently the school holidays and, as much as possible, I have tried to make sure we have half of each day at home for Jake and Thomas to do as they please. We even had a whole day at home on Wednesday. I’d planned for us to go to the library to get a stash of books but they were so happy and absorbed in their creativity that it seemed better to allow them to continue with their play. When we play, we are fully present and operate purely from our natural inclination. I believe that, in this mode, we can receive God’s messages more easily.
I haven’t coached my boys through much decision-making given their young ages (2 & 5 years) and that I’m only just beginning to think about how to help them to live intuitively as I learn to do so myself. But, when they are working through something with me and they are feeling confused or emotional, play might be the answer. It could help their thoughts and emotions to settle so they can sense what feels right. As they get older, Jake and Thomas are likely to develop a few favourite activities for taking a break and, when they’re needing clarity, I could encourage them to do those things.
I also hope to discover and share with my boys a few simple techniques for clearing their heads and becoming present. Perhaps just going to a quiet place to slow down and watch their breath for a few minutes. Or, even, just to take a some focussed breaths wherever they are to return to the moment if they’re not able to withdraw at the time. I’m not a meditator myself (yet, it may happen) but I have started to try and spend some time “sitting with God” each day. I stop for ten minutes of quiet solitude and sit, knowing God is with me. Sometimes we have a cup of tea together, sometimes I close my eyes to focus inward. When needing clarity or reassurance, I might ask a question. Sometimes, I sense an answer almost right away. Sometimes, it comes to me a little later. Sometimes, I feel reassured that there is nothing to do right now but to wait and trust. I commit to not making my decision or taking action until I have heard God’s answer. I wait in faith that it will come. I could introduce Jake and Thomas, when the right moment presents itself (as it seems to do), to sitting with God and suggest they do so at times when they are in need of clarity.
Our Bodies send us Signals
I’ve heard it said that many of our body’s responses to situations are the movement of Spirit within us. Most people are familiar with that “gut feeling” we sometimes get that something is wrong or that we should do something in particular (then later regret ignoring!)
I have had a few experiences recently which have had me wondering about how God uses our body to communicate with us. When I got the inspiration to write this blog, I felt an energy flowing through my body, filling me up. When I attended Jack’s first school assembly recently, I felt the prick of tears in my eyes followed by a remembering of how much it meant to me to be a teacher. And whenever I hear the first few notes of the song “Ellis Island” by The Corrs, I get a shiver down my back and goosebumpy arms and I did so even before I listened to the lyrics for the first time (about people’s experience of immigrating to the USA in the hope of a better life).
In all of these experiences, I couldn’t name an emotion, I just felt a resonating within me. An emotion is a response to a thought but I wasn’t aware of having thoughts in these moments. Yet, many emotions have physical responses too, such as the restlessness of anxiety and the heaviness of sadness. So, is there a difference between intuitive physical responses and emotional physical responses? Do our emotions play any role in intuition? I’d really like to figure these things out. If I could help Jake and Thomas to recognise that their bodies can indicate that something is of significance, it could be very helpful to them. “Do you feel anything in your body that might be showing you something?”
Sharing our own experiences is a helpful way to introduce spiritual ideas and open up conversation about them with our children. Our sharing gives the language, gives examples and shows it’s important. We can describe how we have recognised intuition, intuitive decisions we have made, steps we have taken to invite and connect with God’s guidance. We might also want to share stories of times we haven’t followed intuition.
This is, I know, rather a speculative blog post. Most of the ideas I’ve suggested for encouraging our children to use their intuition I haven’t started using yet. But intuition told me to write the post – probably to get me started! And perhaps to get you started too.
Much love to you and your little souls,
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