How to help children learn to properly bear their testimonies

-Express to children that there is a difference between talking about God and bearing testimony of God.

Teach children what to bear testimony of. They should be taught to bear testimony of Christ, of Joseph Smith and of the Book of Mormon.- Give children opportunities to bear testimonies at home, such as during family home evening. This gives these little ones a chance to share their testimonies in a less-stressful setting. Find other informal times to bear testimonies as a family.

Teach children that, as they bear a testimony, their testimonies will grow, and they will mature spiritually. Help them understand that the different aspects of their testimony will grow at different rates. There is a gradual growth.

Teach children by example. Parents can share their own testimonies in Church and at home, and thus, their children will learn by that example how and why we bear testimony.

Teach children to live the principles of the gospel so that sharing their feelings about the gospel with others comes more naturally and so that testimonies will come up in conversation. Thus, they can bear testimony of Christ, of a current prophet and that God does have a hand in their lives. - Jack and Ann Daugherty, Jupiter, Fla.

Additional Information

How to checklist:

1-Teach children the language of a testimony.

2- Share testimonies at home during formal, informal times.

3- Be example; parents need to also bear their testimonies.

4- Help children live gospel so testimony sharing is natural.

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How we did it: Little reminders

Each week during our family home evening, we allocate some time for testimony bearing. We felt if our children became comfortable bearing a simple testimony each week, then how much easier it would be for them to stand up on Fast Sunday and share a testimony with others.

One thing we include during this time at family home evening is to say, "Let's include in our testimony this week to be grateful for our prophet," or "`Let's remember to include our testimony of the priesthood and our local leaders." With this little reminder to small children, they begin to get the idea that testimonies are more than a travelogue or story time. It certainly has made a difference with our children, and we see the results each month as they become stronger in bearing their testimonies at Church. In addition, adding testimony when they give a talk becomes natural. - Becky Lewis, Hayward, Wis.

Properly prepared

Most of us enjoy hearing the sound of young children bearing their testimonies at fast and testimony meeting. However, on occasion they can get carried away and detract from the reverence of the meeting. My husband and I have tried to teach our three young daughters the sacredness of testimonies by doing the following:

Not allowing them to go to the pulpit until they could bear their testimonies on their own.

Having them sit and think about the things they are thankful for before going to the pulpit.

Discussing at home the feelings they had when they were bearing their testimonies.

By being properly prepared, young children can bring a tenderness to the fast and testimony meeting that can be felt by all those in attendance. - Shawna Stevens, Chino, Calif.

As a family

The best forum for children to learn spiritual principles is the home. Family home evening is the best opportunity to learn the spiritual principle of bearing testimonies. Often, young children don't realize what testimonies are or that they actually do have them. If they love Jesus Christ and believe what they have learned about Him, they have a testimony of the Savior, which they may not realize.

My wife and I allowed time in our family home evening for our children to discuss and formulate what they thought to be their testimonies. After several opportunities of bearing their testimonies in the comfortable home setting, they were ready. When testimony meeting came, we went to the pulpit as a family, bore our testimonies and went back to our seats as a family. The additional support at the pulpit really helped the apprehensive ones. - Monte V. Talbot, Eagar, Ariz.

Family tradition

Sharing testimonies at the dinner table has become a tradition in our home. That way the little ones hear their brothers and sisters bear testimonies. By sharing testimonies around the table, children gain courage, confidence and the understanding that nobody will laugh at them.

When children are little, they start out bearing testimonies in the same language as a prayer. Then, as they gain understanding, they learn the language of a testimony.

We've been sharing testimonies as a family for several years now, and so the little ones have never known it any other way. Our youngest daughter used to ask, "Is today the day?" She looked forward to the opportunity to share her testimony. - Brent Christensen, Charlottesville, Va.

Accompany children

As a bishop, I encourage members of my ward to not send their children with another child up to the pulpit to bear their testimonies. I encourage the parents to bring the children up if these little ones are small enough to need help. If they send children up with children, the older children may not be mature enough to properly help the younger ones. By going up with children, parents have a hands-on experience with the children to help them vocalize their testimonies.

In addition, Primary teachers should be encouraged to share their testimonies during Sharing Time and during class. This way children can learn what a testimony consists of. And during sharing time children have opportunities to share their testimonies with their peers. - Lawrence D. Wilde, Big Lake, Alaska

Set an example

Parents need to set an example. A lot of children bear their testimonies, but their parents seldom do. As a bishop, I observed this over the years. If parents regularly share their testimonies, they can set a pattern for their children's testimonies.

In teaching a child to pray, you teach the child the elements of prayer. Likewise, you teach a child about a testimony. They can be taught to express gratitude; to share their convictions of God, the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration; and then to close in the name of Jesus Christ.

In addition, parents can give children opportunities during family gatherings to share their testimonies. The family circle can be a less-frightening experience. I am speaking from experience because this is what my wife and I did with our children. Thus, I have seen my children stand up in Church and share their testimonies with conviction. - Richard West, West Jordan, Utah

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