Today, in class, at my incredibly conservative college, we had a discussion about the benefits of prayer for children (mostly at around age 8).
The study was done by Bamford and Lagattuta. They had groups of 20 4, 6,and 8 year olds and 40 college students from the University of CA look at pictures of faces depicting various emotions and picture stories of children in different situations who decided to pray. "They were asked when and why people might pray as well as how they would feel afterward."
After being raised in a religious
household the children come to believe "...that prayer is
communication, and they expect that prayer will make them feel better,
especially when they are sad or angry" (The Developing Person Through
the Lifespan, Berger, 356). They claim that religious beliefs become
useful for school-age children because it helps them cope with their
problems and fosters resilience.
I understand that part of the point of their study was to show the development of the brain as one ages and what kinds of thoughts and feelings go along with that but I was frustrated with the fact that the prof. and the book and everyone in the class excepted praying as a valid thing to do. Couldn't part of why the kids think it's so good be due to modeling and scaffolding? I mean, I was raised as an atheist and in middle school I remember having a moment of prayer for the remembrance of 9-11 and saying um... I don't really know how to do that...? Because I'd never been taught to. (Perhaps one good thing my mother has done for me, haha :P)
Also, if kids are praying, especially, in times of fear, anger and sadness to make themselves feel better, shouldn't that be something that is brought to the parents? I, personally, want to encourage any potential future children of mine to come to me with their problems so we can figure out real world solutions. Doesn't that help foster the parent-child bond that this class continues to emphasize the importance of?