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How to Help Young Kids Understand Easter and Good Friday

As Christian parents, it’s important we help our little children understand the truths of Good Friday and Easter in developmentally appropriate ways.

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Easter is a glorious celebration for Christians, but only in the context of the darkness of Good Friday. Without Good Friday, Easter morning loses its meaning. It’s important for us to help our young kids understand Easter and all that goes with it – even the crucifixion. 

How can we communicate the truth about this season in a way that is developmentally and emotionally appropriate for children? 

Here are some tips and guidelines.  As children are infinitely different, these are just suggestions; your child may be able to handle more or less.

Help them understand sin

Without an understanding of sin, our children can’t appreciate the significance of what Jesus did for us on Good Friday and Easter. You can explain that “sin” simply means all the things we do that go against God’s will. You can watch a kid-friendly video on what sin is here. Sins can be big things, little things, actions or thoughts. Every single person sins. Everyone, that is, but Jesus. He is perfect.

Use language they can understand

Even if your child doesn’t understand the concept of death just yet, he can likely understand terms like pain, punishment and loneliness. We can use these words to help explain Good Friday and Easter.

We can say something like:

“When they put Jesus on the cross on Good Friday, it hurt. The people who did it were punishing Him for things that He never did, for Jesus never did anything wrong. Because God loved us and wanted to be friends with us, He took every one of our sins (even the ones we haven’t done yet) out of our hearts and put them into Jesus. Jesus felt all the sadness and loneliness that sin brings. Then Jesus’ body stopped working and His body was put in a tomb. All of our sins were buried in that tomb with Him. When God brought Him back to life and He came out of that tomb on Easter morning, our sins were gone – gone forever. And now we can be friends with God.  That is what we celebrate on Easter.”

If you find yourself stuck trying to answer their follow-up questions about the crucifixion, this article can help.

Be careful

Some parents, in an effort to help their children understand the importance of Good Friday and Easter, go into too much detail about the crucifixion. We need to prayerfully consider the impact that such information will have on our children. We need to take into consideration things such as temperament, past experiences and developmental level. 

We don’t need to feel as if we are keeping the truth from our children, but rather revealing it in a planned and purposeful way. Like a flower opening from a bud to full bloom, we can reveal the details of Good Friday incrementally over time as they age.

Find good resources

There are a lot of great Easter resources out there for Christian parents. Resurrection Eggs offer kids tangible reminders of the elements of the Easter story. You can make your own or purchase a set online. Consider reading Benjamin’s Box as a companion for the Resurrection Eggs. It is a fictional story that illustrates the passion week through the eyes of a child. Benjamin follows Jesus from the triumphal entry to the cross on the hill to the open and empty tomb, collecting items along the way. It helps capture the emotions and intensity of the story in a way that is relatable to children.

If you choose to use a fictional story such as this, be sure to communicate to your kids that while the boy in the story is fictional, the events are not. Show them in a real Bible where the author gets her ideas.

Consider taking them to a Good Friday service

Your young children may not be able to understand what is being preached, but they will feel the atmosphere of the room. The somber environment will be in stark contrast to the coming celebration on Resurrection Sunday. You can talk about the different moods of the two services and why they are different. Don’t let your sensitive little ones wallow in sadness though. Focus on the fact that a celebration on Sunday is coming. 

If your church does an actual dramatic interpretation of the crucifixion rather than a somber service, I would caution you to carefully consider the impact it might have on your children. Most young children do not yet have a place to “file” such images in their minds and cognitively cannot make the leap from what is happening on stage to what Jesus did for them personally. We do not want fears and images to cloud out the restoration message of Easter.

As an alternative, you could also try an “at-home” service using this powerful activity that illustrates (in a kid-friendly way) exactly what happened to our sins on the cross.

More Easter Resources:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for treatment from a qualified mental health professional. Cornerstones for Parents is not liable for any advice, tips, techniques, and recommendations the reader chooses to implement.

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About Laura

Laura Kuehn, LCSW

Laura is a licensed clinical social worker who offers individual therapy to women and moms in Connecticut. She is the author of More Than a Conqueror, A Christian Kid's Guide to Winning the War on Worry. Cornerstones for Parents is the place she combines some of the things she is most passionate about: God's word, parenting and mental health.


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