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How to Talk to Your Child About the Crucifixion Story

Children by nature are inquisitive creatures. They yearn to understand the world around them,
which includes themes of life and death.
From as young as three or four it’s common for children to start asking about death, although it’s
not until they reach school age (between 5 and 7), they start to understand it. This also tends to
coincide with teaching preschoolers about the crucifixion – be it through school, church or at
home.

As difficult as the Crucifixion story is to have, it’s also an important part of Jesus’ story and the
Christian faith, especially in the run up to Easter. However, there are creative ways to teach the
crucifixion without overloading your child. Let’s look at this in more detail.

Developmental readiness 

First of all, be mindful that each child develops at their own pace. As a parent, you know your
child best, including what they are developmentally ready for. For instance, you might talk to a
four year old in less detail about the crucifixion than you would an eight year old. Keep this in
mind, as you tell the Easter story.
On that note, you might want to be guided by a children’s Bible. It will use words and images that
are accessible to young children, and will take you in the right direction.
Important symbolism
There are many rich uplifting lessons that the crucifixion teaches us, including Jesus’
compassion, forgiveness and love. Focus on these uplifting moments to give children hope and
remind them of God’s eternal love for us all. Also talk about moments such as the last supper, as
a way of understanding why we celebrate communion.

Invite questions

Having an open dialogue with your child will encourage them to come to you with their questions
and worries. As such, it’s important to listen to them whilst allowing questions to flourish.
Children tend to approach Bible stories with an open mind, which means lots of questions. Do
your best to answer these based on the facts, rather than speculation. If you don’t know the
answer, it’s also ok to say that. Acknowledge their efforts by saying ‘that’s a good question’ – you
don’t always have to have the answer.
Look at the uplifting moments
When explaining the crucifixion, you may find it better to focus on the positives – such as the
depth of God’s love for us, that he gave us his only son. What’s more, Jesus knew his fate and
still forgive the wrong-doers. In some ways, the cross was the greatest act of love, as Jesus
saved us all.
Try reading from John 19 in the Bible, letting your child reflect on God’s great love, rather than
the details of the crucifixion itself.

Answering difficult questions and the Resurrection

A common question you might be asked is ‘who was responsible for Jesus’ death’, for kids this
is an intriguing matter. Your child might not understand why someone who did nothing wrong
was punished. Let’s not forget the resurrection, and how Jesus lives in all of us today. And, even
after his punishment, he is seated with God – as we too will one day.

A typical question a child might ask is; ‘who was responsible for Jesus’ death?’. It’s an intriguing
question because children struggle to understand why an innocent man was treated so harshly.
Of course, the story of the Crucifixion is sad, and it’s ok for children to acknowledge these normal
feelings. At the same time, gently lead them to the understanding that through the Resurrection
Jesus rose again and remains alive in our hearts, as we continue to try to live in the Lord’s love.

Finally, use the opportunity to pray together and remember, especially before a crucifix or cross if
you have one, that through our trust in God, we will find a deeper love and inner peace.