Christmas feels so magical. The whole family gathers together. Everyone is full of joy- eating good food, singing Christmas carols, and getting excited about exchanging the gifts we’ve spent so much time choosing and wrapping. And that’s just from the parents’ point of view.
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For kids, the magic feels literal. Santa and his elves working away at the North Pole. Opening the letters from children all over the world who want Santa to know exactly what to bring them for Christmas.
Mrs Claus feeding the reindeer as they prepare for the big night. Santa and his crew flying through the night skies, bells jingling, as they deliver gifts to all the boys and girls of the world.
Kids love the whole thing! They feel excited yet nervous to meet Santa at the mall. They enjoy baking (or helping you bake) cookies to leave for Santa when he visits their home.
They may even try to sneak out of their room late at night, hoping to catch a glimpse of the big guy as he comes shuffling down the chimney.
And, as parents, we enjoy injecting a bit of magic into their lives. We cherish their excitement and joy and will do anything to extend the experience – from buying an Elf on the Shelf to creating Santa’s snowy footprints leading from the chimney to the Christmas Tree and back again.
But what happens when the kids stop believing in Santa? We all know that day will come. Either someone will let slip that Santa isn’t real or they will simply get to the age where they realise that it’s not possible for one man (even with a team of reindeer and elves) to deliver gifts to every single home in the world.
Not to mention the questions about why some kids get a lot of gifts and others only get one or how Santa gets in to homes that don’t have chimneys. When kids get to the point when are questioning Santa’s existence, what do you say or do next?
While this may be tricky, here are a few ideas for how to handle the situation.
What to Do When Kids Stop Believing in Santa Claus
Encourage Open Communication
When your child comes to you asking if Santa is real (or telling you that the jig is up), ask them to tell you what they think and how they feel.
Give them an opportunity to let you in on the inner workings of their minds as well as their feelings surrounding the whole situation.
This may give you a better idea of how to proceed. I can’t give you a script of what to say since every child and situation is different. However, I believe that honesty is the best policy.
For example, it is honest to say that Santa is a fun Christmas tradition that families all over the world participate in.
It is part of the fun of the holiday- just like decorating the Christmas Tree, watching classic Christmas movies, and any other traditions your family practices. You might want to focus on creating a Christmas Eve Box.
The Legacy of Saint Nicholas
Another thing you can do is tell them the story of the man behind the myth: Saint Nicholas. Saint Nicholas was born in present-day Turkey and was a Christian bishop who gained a reputation for (among other things) giving to the needy and to the poor.
One story of his altruism states that he helped 3 young women from a poor family by secretly giving them the money for their dowry.
He did this by (purportedly) going into their house at night and leaving them a bag of money. After his death, people carried on his tradition of leaving gifts for family during the middle of the night.
Whether he is known by St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, or Santa Claus, he has become a symbol for gift-giving during the holiday season.
Recruit a New Santa
One way to keep the magic of Santa alive is to encourage your children to channel their inner Santa by giving gifts to others. Teach the that the spirit of Santa is giving things to others to bring them joy.
You can even explain to them how happy it made you on Christmas Day to see their faces light up as they opened gifts – even if they didn’t know it was from you.
Help them come up with ideas for how they can take on the role of Santa Claus, both in the family and in your community.
One great idea during the holidays is to buy or make a gift for a neighbour and leave it on their doorstep for them to find on Christmas morning.
Another idea is to find an organisation that has a Christmas Angel program (where low-income families can request gifts) and pick a family to help.
This way, even though your kid no longer believes in Santa, they can still help keep the spirit of Santa alive. The bonus is that once they do it, they will be better able to understand why you kept up the Santa tradition with them – it feels good!
Don’t Ruin It for Others
Another important thing to discuss with your child is the fact that even though they no longer believe in Santa, it wouldn’t be very kind to ruin the magic for other children.
This is especially important if you have other young children who still enjoy believing in Santa Claus. Let your child know that it’s important to let their siblings (and friends) learn the truth about Santa in their own time.
Tell the what Christmas means to you, remind them of the years they enjoyed believing in Santa, and then let them know that you are happy to have the be a special part of keeping the tradition going.
Create a New Family Tradition
If your child has no interest in keeping up with the Santa tradition, why not work together to create a new tradition? This can help everyone involved to move past the possible sadness of “losing” Santa. Because, let’s be honest, it can be a big part of our annual celebration.
It’s natural to feel sadness. To cry, even. But rather than wallowing in that sadness, be proactive about creating a new tradition TOGETHER that will make the holiday one filled with joy.
These are just a few suggestions on how you can handle having the “Santa talk” with your kids. Do you remember when you learned the truth about Santa? How did your parents handle it? Let me know in the comments below!
Fun Items the Kids might like for Christmas
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