I firmly believe that it is never too early to teach your child about the Bible. I have been praying with my son since day one and, at two years old, he has a handful of scripture verses memorized. Although a toddler can't completely understand Easter and what Jesus did for us, I believe it's important that we teach our little ones that Easter is about Jesus and not the Easter bunny or candy.
So, how exactly do we teach toddlers the importance of Easter on a level they can understand?
Before I go further into how to explain Easter to your toddler, it's important to understand these three facts about toddlers:
- Toddlers don't understand figurative speech and metaphors. They are very literal.
- They don't have the vocabulary that older children have - like "sin" or "forgiveness".
- They process violence they see on screens as if it is happening to them.
Keeping these things in mind will help you to communicate Easter and its importance to your child on a level that she can understand.
When I explain Easter to my son, I keep it very simple:
- Jesus loves us all.
- Jesus wants us to live with him forever. (One day in heaven)
- Some people didn't like Jesus, so they hurt Him.
- Jesus died.
- Jesus is alive!
As you can see I don't get into "sin" and "forgiveness". That's not to say, I don't ever mention it. When I talk to my son about Jesus dying for us, I do at times get into how we do things that we shouldn't but the main foundation I am trying to lay down is that Jesus loves us and he wants us with Him forever. As he grows older, he will understand sin and how that separates us from God but, for now, we don't go too far down that road. I also don't get too much into how Jesus died, other than people hurt him and he died.
Finally, I say, "we celebrate Easter because Jesus is alive". I will repeat this over and have my son say it with me. Again, as he gets older, we will unfold more concepts but for now the most important thing is that he knows that Easter is a celebration that Jesus is alive.
I do want to add that I do read parts of the Easter story from age-appropriate Bibles and storybooks. So, my son does hear the entire account of Jesus' death and resurrection (again, in an age-appropriate way) but as far as our conversations about why we celebrate Easter, I keep it to the five points mentioned above with the main point being - we celebrate Easter because Jesus is ALIVE (he usually yells that part)!