When you think of “religious counselling”, you might think of a “spiritual” one.
That’s right: the “spirituality” part is a lie.
It’s a very real and dangerous phenomenon.
This is what a recent report from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) has found when it comes to the role of religion in childhood mental health.
According to the report, “religion is an important component of early life and can have a significant impact on a child.”
ICES defines religion as “the belief system, practices, or attitudes of a particular religion, or a group of people or groups who adhere to the tenets of the religion.”
The study found that: The number of children in this age group who reported at least one religious belief was 4.4 million.
Of these, about 14% reported at most one belief, and nearly half (49%) reported three or more.
It’s not just religion that’s contributing to a child being religious.
A third of the children surveyed reported being a member of a church or temple at some point in their lives, and over half of these children reported attending church or temples regularly.
And according to the research, it can have negative effects on a young child’s ability to interact with the world around them.
“Children’s religious beliefs are not simply a matter of their religious beliefs but also have a real impact on their mental health,” the study said.
Children are also often forced to choose between their parents’ religious beliefs and their own, which can lead to stress and a lack of coping skills.
There are a number of factors that can affect a child in a religious setting, from how much time a child spends at home to how many times a child visits a temple or church, as well as the type of religion a child follows.
A study published last year by the National Council for Applied Psychology found that religious-motivated behaviour and “religiosity” are linked to poorer physical health, which is linked to increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts.
So, while religious beliefs can be a useful thing in a childs life, don’t let your kid become a fundamentalist by becoming a spiritual counselled parent.
Instead, make sure your child has the tools in their toolbox to develop a strong sense of spirituality and a healthy sense of self.
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Read more about religious beliefs:The National Council on Family Psychology, an organisation that works with young people, said in a statement that the study shows “the need for more research into the relationship between religion and children.”
It also noted that the use of “religious” or “spirit” in the context of religious education is “misleading and has been shown to be inaccurate.”
“While religious beliefs do play a significant role in shaping young people’s lives, this should not be mistaken for a positive influence,” the organisation said.
“It is important to note that religious belief is a mental health disorder and should not in any way be confused with mental health.”
To learn more about the Institute of Clinical Evaluidative Sciences’ research into religious belief and how to help a child develop a healthy, balanced self, check out this infographic.