If you have a preschooler in your family, you may be wondering the best way to share the story of Easter in a way that is developmentally and emotionally appropriate for your child.
Teaching children about the birth of Jesus at Christmas time is easy and appealing. Everyone loves the story of a God’s Son being born in a stable surrounded by angels, shepherds, cows, and sheep.
But, teaching a young child about the death and resurrection of Jesus can be challenging. You may be tempted to skip the part of the story about Jesus on the cross because you are concerned that your child will be overly sad or disturbed by Jesus’ death. While every child is unique in temperament and development, here are some general guidelines for sharing the Easter story:
1. Keep it simple: stick with the basics of the Easter story and save the details about nails, the crown of thorns or other painful details for when your child is older. You may simply say to your three year old: “Jesus was hurt by some bad guys and they put Him on the cross and He died.”
2. Tell the truth: death is a part of life. If your child has lost a goldfish or a great-grandparent, they may have already felt the sadness that death can bring. In a gentle and simple way, talking about death helps a child understand their world and the promises of life after death with God.
3. Focus on the GOOD NEWS: Jesus came to life again. He beat death! He made a way for us to go heaven! Easter is a story with a happy-ever-after ending.
4. Answer their questions: little people don’t process big things all at once. Expect lots of questions. Answer them the best you can, keeping in mind that short answers are best. It’s also okay to say, “I don’t know…what do you think?” Questions mean that your child is thinking about Jesus, which is a good thing!