How do I explain the cross to my toddler?

My little daughter surprised me with a question. Why is Jesus on the cross, what does he do there? I think that the idea of somebody nailed to the wood and dying will be very hard for her to understand.

There is no need to be graphic with a very young child, such as a toddler. It’s sufficient to say that he died to save us from sin and refrain from mentioning being “nailed to the wood.”

But, first, it might be a good idea to draw her out with questions of your own and try to find out how much she needs to know right now. For example:

“Why is Jesus on the cross?”
“Why do you ask?” or “Why do you think he’s on the cross?”

“What does he do there?”
“What do you think?”

Questions like that will probably give you more information to work with. Just answer the specific question that arises from this discussion and stop. If your daughter wants to know more, she’ll ask. For example, if she responds to “Why do you ask?” with “My friend CeeCee’s mommy says we shouldn’t have Jesus on the cross around our neck because Jesus isn’t dead anymore,” then you’ll know that she isn’t asking about divine atonement or the redemption of man, but is probably asking about jewelry she’s seen.

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