“Children need to be able to discern truth from error for themselves and have the courage to act on what they know” (Sister Michaelene P. Grassli, 1994). The children need to know how to discern righteously what is the truth and what is not. Grassli compares this discernment to the story of Moses.
“We read in the first chapter of Moses that God talked to Moses face to face, taught him that he was a son of God, and showed him the earth from its beginning to the end. Then “Satan came tempting him, saying: Moses, son of man, worship me (Moses 1:12).
“And how did Moses respond to Satan’s confrontation? “It came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee? (Moses 1:13).
“Because Moses knew God, he recognized that Satan was an imposter. If our children know the truth, they can recognize error. Moses recognized error, he prayed continually for help, and he overcame fear. Thus he was able to defy Satan’s attempts to intimidate him”.
Cherish the Children
Children are so important. They are like little sponges, they soak up everything around them. They watch how the people in their lives react. It is our privilege as adults to make sure that we are showing the children how to act and choose for themselves, how to make decisions.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always cherished children. The First Presidency, recognizing today’s unprecedented world conditions, has taken unprecedented action that renews our commitment to our little ones. Through a message to the Church called “Focus on Children,” they have asked us to love and protect our children as never before, to teach them better than we have done in the past, to prepare them more thoroughly to conquer Satan’s power in their lives and to receive of the Lord’s eternal peace and glory (see Ensign, Jan. 1994, p. 80).
“We care what happens to our children. They are precious to our Heavenly Father, and they are our hope for bringing about good in the world. President Boyd K. Packer once told me, “It is today’s children who will bring the gospel to all the world. The children must be powerful and strong and independent in their agency. In order for that to be, they must have a knowledge of the gospel and a testimony that it is true”.
Two Ways to Recognize Truth
There are two ways to help your child to recognize error and take action. One way that we can do this is to teach the children of Jesus Christ and the simple truths of His gospel. To be able to do that we have to be with them so we can verbally share our beliefs with them and so they can watch us apply the principles in our lives.
“Work time, playtime, planned lessons, the teaching moments that just happen—anytime is the time! Family home evening, family prayer, and times alone with each child will help plant truth in the hearts of our children.
“Our children need to know that if we read the scriptures and the words of the prophets and heed the whisperings of the Spirit, we are learning from the source of all truth. If we oppose the Lord’s appointed teachers of truth, then we oppose the truth. But if we honestly desire to know what is true, it follows that we would want to learn from the source of truth”.
The second way to teach our children is to discern truth from error is to give them opportunities to practice discerning truth and to choose righteously. Some simple things to help remind them is a CTR (Choose the Right) ring or in family home evenings role-playing situations that they could encounter. This way the children can have a plan before a situation comes up.
“When our children are familiar with the truth, they can face opposing voices with confidence. No one can tell them the Church is not true because that will sound wrong to them. When they make mistakes or have questions about doctrines as we all do, the feelings and memories of truth from their childhood can help draw them back” (Helping Children Know Truth from Error).
Creative ways some people have used to help their children recognize the truth
There are a few different ways that I have seen parents teach their children how to recognize truth. One way that I thought was a pretty cool way to teach children is to use different candy bars. For example, Hershey’s chocolate bar and a Crunch bar.
Lay out the different candy bars and show that from the outside the Crunch bar looks like smooth plain chocolate. Then cut into the bar and show that inside it is not plain chocolate. This can be compared to the ways that Satan try to deceive us. It looks like it is true at first glance but when you get closer you realize that there is something hidden inside.
Then cut into the Hershey’s chocolate bar. Show that it is just chocolate, there is nothing inside that was hidden from view. This is the truth. It is the same on the inside that it is on the outside.
Using Ordinary Objects
Another way to teach children how to recognize truth is to pick up an everyday object. Look at all the parts and pieces of that object with the children. Then explain the function of each of the parts.
A blogger from In All You Do writes of their experience with using everyday objects, scissors, to teach right from wrong.
Excerpt from In All You Do blog:
“Scissors are sharp. They are used to cut things. Handles make the blades move. Scissors can do good things such as prune plants, or cut hair. They can also be destructive and can cut our skin if we aren’t careful.
“Scissors can be like our tongues.
“Psalm 52:2 says that your tongue devises destruction, like a sharp razor. Our words can cut and hurt, but they can also calm and heal. James 3:8 tells us that no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. This is why we need Jesus. We are unable to tame our tongue, but with faith in Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, then we can produce fruit of kindness and self-control”.
Take your kids outside
Have each of the children search for something that reminds them of God. Something unusual that He created. Then have the children describe the object and why it reminds them of God.
“When you think about it, any object from nature can be turned into an object lesson because everything was created by God and reflects some part of his attributes”(In All You Do).
Hopefully, all of these ideas give you multiple unique ways to teach your children how to recognize the truth. I will end with the words of Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, former Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency.
Teaching our children to understand is more than just imparting information. It’s helping our children get the doctrine into their hearts.