How to help children feel, recognize and know the influence of the Holy Ghost

In an increasingly distracting world, our children are faced with doubts, fears and confusion on a regular basis. Helping them come to know, recognize and seek the Spirit will enable them to find strength in their daily circumstances. The influence of the Holy Ghost will help them faithfully maneuver through the muddiness in life. The Holy Spirit is essential in guiding, comforting, enlightening and testifying to their precious souls. 

Most children have a desire to embrace the “how” if they know the “why.” Teaching, emphasizing and testifying of the plan of salvation will enable them to understand their divinity and the love our Father in Heaven has for them. They will come to trust and treasure the Atonement of the Savior. This will help them recognize the beautiful need for the companionship of the Holy Spirit and the role He plays in their lives. It is our sacred responsibility to help them seek after and nurture a relationship with the Holy Ghost and help them understand how the Spirit directs them specifically.

Because every one of God’s children is unique and all learn and absorb differently, it makes sense that the Spirit communicates in individual ways. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Spirit speaks to us in ways we can understand. “Our Heavenly Father is always available to us. He adapts to our level of understanding. ‘If He comes to a little child, He will adapt himself to the language and capacity of a little child’” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:392).

A family reads the scriptures during family home evening. Parents must teach their children to feel, recognize and know the influence of the Holy Ghost, the Primary general presidency teaches.
A family reads the scriptures during family home evening. Parents must teach their children to feel, recognize and know the influence of the Holy Ghost, the Primary general presidency teaches. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

When we prayerfully seek to know how to teach our children and observe them through spiritual eyes, we can cultivate moments and opportunities for them to experience the Holy Spirit so that they can come to know how the Spirit interacts with them.

Grand manifestations are not common. It is in simple and ordinary ways that this extraordinary gift relays the personal revelation our souls yearn for. Elder Boyd K. Packer explained, “Inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound” (“Prayers and Answers,” Ensign, November 1979). We can help our children observe different ways the Holy Ghost prompts us. The Spirit can bring a feeling of peace to our minds, it can warn us, and it brings a feeling of clarity and confidence as we seek answers.  

Fostering environments that promote the Spirit can help our children see that the Holy Ghost can convey inspiration through a variety of experiences. Engaging our children in the hymns and classical music may enlarge their capacity for the Spirit to resonate within them. Primary songs teach the doctrine and the Spirit can testify of their truthfulness. The Holy Ghost can inspire the visual learner through beautiful, spiritual artwork. Being in nature can provide a child with a majestic classroom where the Spirit teaches through beauty and reverence. We can provide daily quiet time for reflection and pondering so that our children are open to impressions. Encouraging them to write down their impressions will be a lifelong blessing to them.  

Additionally, gratitude and service play an important part in feeling the Spirit. President Thomas S. Monson counseled, “To live with gratitude ever in our hearts is to touch heaven” (“The Divine Gift of Gratitude”, Ensign and Liahona, November 2010, p. 90). As we encourage our children to notice their blessings and to be grateful in all things, their connection to heaven will be strengthened. This gratitude prepares their sweet souls to feel the Spirit more readily.

A mother teaches her young son to pray. Parents must teach their children to feel, recognize and know the influence of the Holy Ghost, the Primary general presidency teaches.
A mother teaches her young son to pray. Parents must teach their children to feel, recognize and know the influence of the Holy Ghost, the Primary general presidency teaches.

Something as sweet as a genuine compliment is an indication the Spirit is present.  Sister Camilla Kimball advised us to “never suppress a generous thought” (Sister Julie B. Beck, “Relief Society: A Sacred Work”, Ensign and Liahona, November 2009, p. 110).  As we furnish opportunities for children to serve others and encourage simple acts of kindness, we can be sure the Spirit accompanies them.

Inviting the Spirit into our daily lives is powerful and increases our ability to receive direction and feel its presence. Elder David A. Bednar taught, “We more readily receive and recognize the Spirit of the Lord as we appropriately invite Him into our lives. We cannot compel, coerce, or command the Holy Ghost. Rather, we should invite Him into our lives with the same gentleness and tenderness by which He entreats us” (“Receive the Holy Ghost”, Ensign and Liahona, November 2010, p. 94). 

Imagine children being taught in their homes around the world to start each new day in humble prayer with a personal invitation for the Spirit to be their companion.

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children” (Isaiah 54:13).