A Spiritual Approach to Raising Buddhist Children, an Interview with Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, master of the Dudjom Lineage of Buddhism
(from Vajradhatu Sun Magazine, 1992 Feb/Mar edition)
When children start to see objects and start to talk, you can put the seeds of good habits in their minds gradually, with skillful means and patience, for the long term, showing them how to practice for enlightenment and also for this life. It is important to put the seeds of how to settle their minds from the beginning.
Ordinary people cannot be forced to think or act beyond their capacity, because it can cause craziness. Unless they have especially gifted minds or are a sublime being’s incarnation, very young children cannot understand subtle, immaterial spiritual ideas. So therefore, they have to be taught gradually about spirituality at the right time, with skillful means, through the objects of the five senses in the material world, even though the source of material energy is immaterial and the basis of spiritual phenomena is insubstantial.
Children must be taught initially through material examples which they can touch, which they can see, and which they can hear, in order to connect them to immaterial spirituality. At least they will not have an unstable mind or mental disorder. Ultimately, this can be beneficial to attain enlightenment if they practice continuously. If they have faith, it can benefit them even momentarily in this life. Then, as they grow up, they have to change again, because they develop their minds. Their minds become more refined, and they become ready to learn more refined ideas. As they grow up further, a more expansive point of view has to be gradually taught.