Explaining Easter to Kids (Without Scaring Them)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV
The look on my six-year-old niece’s face was enough to make me want to crawl in a hole and cry myself to sleep. She was shocked, terrified, repulsed and utterly distraught. As the tears streamed, she asked in the smallest, saddest, little voice, “Jesus died?” At that point, my entire family began trying to explain. “But he rose again!” we all chimed in. “He lives! He is with us now.” However, there was nothing we could do or say to make her feel better about it. We learned that explaining Easter to kids can be a delicate matter. In her little-girl mind, Jesus—her loving Father—the one she accepted in her heart at an early age, had just died and she was inconsolable.
Easter is a unique holiday for Christians because it carries weight. We know that in order for the stone to be rolled away, Jesus had to first be crucified, tortured and left to die next to thieves. This is not an easy topic for adults to discuss, so how do we explain Easter to our kids without completely terrifying them? How do we describe the gravity of the holiday without horrifying them with the ugly, painful details of the suffering that Jesus endured? Or are we supposed to let them feel the pain and join them where they are?
As parents, we must think through our options and make the best decisions for our children (after all, we know that not every child is the same). But when my niece completely melted down, I started rethinking the ways we could have shared the Easter story. Maybe we could have…
1. Focused the message around the resurrection. Simply just reminding her that Jesus will always be with her might have been a little less traumatic for this tender-hearted girl. We will maybe get a little more detailed every year as she learns and grows in the Word.
2. Started the conversation a week or two before the Easter celebration. Maybe if we could have walked her through each day, she would have been ready to celebrate Easter morning.
3. Incorporated a children’s activity or book. DaySpring has several age-appropriate art projects and resources to help kids get a better understanding of Easter. Another idea would be to help the kids act out Luke 24.
It’s not easy being a parent (or an aunt, come to think of it…) when it comes to explaining hard concepts—especially when it is as deep as our Lord and Savior dying on a cross for us (I mean, it doesn’t get any deeper than that, does it?) So, how about we start thinking today about how best to share the Easter message with our little ones?
Share this article with a friend, family member or loved one and start making a plan today! Check out Easter resources for children to help you explain the holiday, and start preparing your child’s heart for the celebration that is about to begin. After all, you don’t want to be in a hole crying yourself to sleep, right?