It’s easy to see examples of how Heaven and Hell confuse the world. People doubt the existence of both places, debate what qualifies one to go to either, and question what we will spend all our time doing for eternity. As we lead children, it’s important that we help kids understand Heaven and Hell in a way that they can comprehend. Different children grasp various concepts at different ages, but here are some simple, general guidelines to help you as you talk to kids about this sometimes-tricky subject.
Birth to Kindergarten: When dealing with the youngest of these kids, it’s important to understand that few have had to deal with death. It’s best to talk about heaven to this age range as a physical place where they can someday live. At this point, don’t struggle trying emphasize the spiritual aspects of heaven. For now, help children understand that heaven is a wonderful place where Jesus lives, and emphasize there will be no crying, pain, or sadness. Again, for those younger than two, the spiritual implications will be harder to understand, so focus more on heaven. Simply refer to Hell as a bad place. As kids grow, they will begin to understand Heaven as a wonderful place where Jesus lives and where they can someday live as well.
1st and 2nd Grade: By this age, an increasing number of kids have had experience on some level with death … whether just through exposure to movies, or through the death of a pet, or even a grandparent. Because of this, kids may look at death differently. Every child is different, but at this age, kids start to discover that Jesus took the punishment they deserve so they can live in heaven with him. In simple terms, kids understand Heaven is good and Hell is bad. You may hear a lot of questions from kids this age range about Heaven and Hell. Don’t be afraid if you don’t have all the answers! Be honest with the child and research the subject so you can continue the discussion next time. Most questions will be aboutwhy people go to Heaven or Hell when they die. This is a great time to explain that Jesus wants everyone to live in Heaven and to help them understand how they can tell others about Jesus’ sacrifice and love.
3rd and 4th Grade: At this age, most kids are starting to understand the finality of death. They can understand that Heaven is being with God and Hell is being apart from God. The great thing about this age range is that kids can connect with the concept of having a relationship with Jesus They grasp that because of that relationship, they can experience Heaven’s joy instead of pain and sadness in Hell.
5th and 6th Grade: Preteens understand that Hell is separation from God for eternity, and Heaven is eternal life with God, and we will all go to one or the other. Preteens can understand that we make the decision regarding where we’ll go, but they still may be in the mindset that our actions directly impact whether we spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. It’s important that we help kids understand that being in Heaven is a gift that we can accept.
If you’re looking for ways to talk to kids about death, check out this article.
How do you teach kids about heaven? Let us know using the comment section below!