Religious and spiritual experiences have implications for many aspects of development across the lifespan, including during early childhood. A focus on religion and spirituality expands beyond a discrete domain of social science (e.g., cognitive development) and involves developmental, social-psychological, affective and emotional phenomena, and personality. This conceptual paper contributes to the literature regarding the understudied role of religion and spirituality in the lives of young children and their families in order to contribute to a comprehensive study of human development. After a concise review of the literature on religious development, this paper draws from the sociocultural perspective and illustrative examples of lived experiences to frame young children’s religious participation and gives particular consideration to religious minorities. While the sociocultural perspective captures the range of children’s experiences, this manuscript introduces the understudied role of emotion as a motivator for children’s selection of experiences. The paper concludes with implications for practitioners and suggestions for future research, practice, and policy.
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