“It is better for a child to learn a heart lesson, though it cause him temporary pain, than for him to ignorantly follow a path leading to eternal pain.” (Helping Children to Understand the Gospel. Minneapolis: Children Desiring God, 2009, page 12)
This is not a popular message in our world today, but it is important for parents to not be so afraid of our children’s feelings getting hurt that we actually prevent them from realizing they are sinners in need of a Saviour.
Our reassuring them that they are “good people who do bad things” is actually telling them they don’t need saving, they just need to behave more like Jesus. Unknowingly, we are telling them they can work to earn salvation.
Instead, they need to be aware of just how far from good they actually are. It is human nature to reject God. It is human nature to do harm to others. If they don’t know that it is their nature that is corrupt, they will never accept the fact that they actually need to be saved from their evil nature.
Yes, we do need to behave like Jesus, but that will not happen unless we are transformed from the type of person who is proud and selfish, into the type of person who desires to love God and love others. It is God who transforms and it can not be done until a child recognized just how far his nature is from being that type of person.