The meaning of heaven and hell is difficult to explain to children, not only because of its complexity, but because of the disturbing images of hell that man has created. Teachers and parents fear that failing to accurately describe heaven and hell will make children even more confused than before they tried to answer the kids' questions. Even though there is no "manual," basing your conversations on a few kid-friendly facts will help children understand the meaning of afterlife.
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Clarify that most descriptions of hell and heaven are entirely man's creations. Even though the Bible uses a lot of imagery, it is not clear what heaven or hell are really like. Explain that the images of burning, dark places and living on top of the clouds are not accurate. Christian priests of long ago created these images to explain to non-educated people the issue of the two different outcomes of our life on earth. Don't overexcite children by describing how great it will be in heaven, and don't frighten them about hell. Instead, explain that heaven is living with God and hell is being away from him.
Explain who goes to heaven and who goes to hell. Just like in this life, children make their own decisions that will determine which path they will follow in the afterlife. It's in their hands to follow the kind of life they want to have by avoiding bad behaviours. Clarify that they themselves are solely responsible for either going to heaven or hell.
Be specific about what kids need to do, now and later in their lives, to secure a place in heaven. For instance, teach children they must always try to be honest and trustworthy, never take what doesn't belong to them and help the underprivileged. Use the Ten Commandments as the basis of explaining the behaviours they should choose to do throughout their lives and the character they must try to maintain.
Help children to avoid being misguided by people or sects who promise a guaranteed spot in heaven to those who will follow them. Teach kids that God alone is the one and only judge; this judgement should be passed to no other, nor are the kids to judge anyone else. Scams exist in every possible disguise, even as religious men aiming to deceive people, especially children, and steal their personal belongings.
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