Explaining the Trinity to Children


Explaining the Trinity to my children on the drive to church on Easter morning was not what I expected to be doing. But I found myself in a unique situation.

Earlier in the week we covered the meaning of Good Friday and Easter. Between grandparents and great grandparents, we’ve discussed death since they were 3. When I first told Emma that Jesus died on the cross, she burst in to tears. But the tears soon disappeared as we discussed the resurrection. So although we discussed it all before, it’s still a big concept for them to digest.

Sunday morning John was reviewing the meaning of Easter on the way to church and the kids were quite attentive. But somewhere in the process thoughts went astray and he started getting questions like: Did Jesus grow up to be God? But Jesus is in my heart and He’s also in heaven with God? Etc. John looked at me. I look at John. Hmmm…. I said, “Well, I hadn’t thought we’d be covering the Trinity this morning.”

I had wondered how to explain the Trinity to them before. How does a child grasp this concept? I wasn’t sure how it was explained to me and I haven’t heard anyone else explain it to their kids. So while I was at a loss for a moment, my ‘thinking-fast-on-your-feet’ mommy gene served me well. Here’s how it went.

ME: You know what water is right? It’s liquid.

THEM: Yes

ME: Ok, so what happens to what when it freezes? It turns in to what?

THEM: Ice!

(Side comment from John: Oh you’re good! It was the boost I needed to know I was on the right track.)

ME: Yes, ice. Very good! Ok and what happens to what when it’s heated? Like when it’s on the stove and it begins to boil. What does it turn in to?

THEM: Ummmm…. (a little prodding on my behalf… ssssttttt) Steam

ME: Yes, it turns in to steam. Ok, so water can be liquid, or ice, or steam. But it’s all still water just in different forms right?  THEM: Yes….

ME: Ok, that’s how God is. God is in three forms. Father God, who is in Heaven. Jesus, who came to Earth as a man. And the Holy Spirit, who lives inside our hearts. They are all God but in different forms. Does that make sense?

THEM: Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah……..

I won’t go in to the details of the variety of questions, cross-references and comparisons they made on their own, but suffice it to say it was a very interesting conversation in the next 5 minutes it took us to get to church. They surprised me with their ability to transfer knowledge and give me examples of things that are different but yet the same.

It’s still a very large concept to grasp, but I think we have good starting place.

How did you explain it to your children?

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8 thoughts on “Explaining the Trinity to Children

  1. You might say that God is a person who is revealed to us in three ways – as a Father (creator), Son (human form) and Holy Spirit (Comforter/Spirit) who would stay with us when Jesus went to heaven. I also find creation of man interesting as God says, Let US make man in our image. We’ll understand it all better in due time.

    • Just that when I tried it going to who human / God/ Holy Ghost route- we seem to get distracted with the concept of the a man turns in to a ghost – like Casper, but I thot u said that was only a movie. It leads down a road that i’d rather not go w/ a 4 yo brain in tow bc at that point i’ve lost them. Anything else I say will be lost of “is that a ghost?” “when we die, do we turn in to ghosts”…….. But they do experiments at school with ice melting and freezing and boiling. that get that as something tangible that is not as spooky or mysterious. it’s easy for them to digest at this age.

      • I wondered how I had been taught the concept, and I realize that I have good grounding in the biblical stories and bible timeline. Hearing early the “I believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth” statement of faith repeated weekly, hearing bible stories and scripture read repeatedly, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and then experiencing for myself salvation and infilling of Holy Spirit made all of the parts of the Trinity real to me as a parent – the Trinity was a person to me. I’m not sure if my kids asked me at age 4 what the trinity was and I don’t think we should play devil’s advocate and put the question in their minds and hearts until they have enough word of God in them to start to begin to put the person of God into some kind of context. There is a bit of mystery to some of the concepts and the trinity is one of those surrounded by mystery but we have enough information that we can get glimpses of the glory of it. I see your question is about how to explain to 4 year old, I would think it would be better to keep reading bible stories and biblical accounts of people experiencing the providence of God, the salvation of God through Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in Acts. Kids should have bible stories read to them (I’m not saying I did it all perfect with my kids). I wish I had done at least as well as my parents did with bible reading and discussion.

  2. I explained it to my 3 and 4 year old using an egg as an example. I showed them the egg and we talked about how it was one egg. Then I broke it open and showed them that it had three parts…the shell, the egg white, and the yolk. It was just one egg but it was made up of 3 parts. I think your water analogy is very similar. Something tangible that they can see and that can help them begin to wrap their mind around the idea of the trinity.

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