How to deal with your child's fear of Santa Claus

How to deal with your child's fear of Santa Claus

If your kid is afraid of Santa Claus, taking a picture of her on his lap won’t be easy!

I was at the mall doing some early Christmas shopping when I heard a child screaming at the top of his lungs. I thought maybe the boy was lost or someone was hurting him. I rushed towards the screams because I wanted to see what was going on. Suddenly, I found myself behind a long line of parents and children waiting to see Santa Claus. Inside the little Santa house was the young boy, red-faced with tears down his face, still screaming in his green Christmas-themed sweater. As a mother, I felt like jumping in there and taking him away from what was causing him such trauma. You could tell the boy’s parents were upset with him, because they appeared embarrassed. I thought “what’s wrong with this picture?”

Every parent wants those memorable photos of their children sitting on Santa Claus’s lap. But, often we get the child screaming, crying or trying to escape Santa photo. We’ve all seen them, and we didn’t have to search long to find the one above.

But there is a way to make your child’s visit as jolly as St. Nick. Dora Saucedo-Falls, a licensed, practicing counselor in Dallas offers some sound advice for making your child’s visit to Santa Claus a joyful occasion, not one of stress and anxiety. She says children waiting in line to see Santa are often focused on the crowds and chaos, while their parents are fixated on getting to the front of the line, and getting the photo.

“Put yourself at their level.” says Saucedo-Falls. “Babies and toddlers may have a short-term memory, but they will almost always assume something negative when they see Santa.”

Saucedo-Falls recommends these few tips to help your child ease into the Santa visit and make it a good experience for all:

1. DO read books with pictures of Santa to your child days before your visit. It gets them used to seeing the white bearded one.

2. DON’T have picture day with Santa at the mall on the weekends. Crowds, chaos, and Christmas don’t mix well.

3. DO take them a few days earlier to see the layout of Santa’s house and to show them other kids interacting with Santa.

4. DON’T be uptight and stressed. A child can sense what you’re feeling, and will react the same way.

5. DO dress them in comfortable clothing. The fancy dress and bow tie may look cute, but may not be so comfortable adding to the stress of your child.

6. DO talk to them when you’re in line. Talk about how much fun you’re having and maybe glance over the book you shared earlier.

7. DO distract your child if you hear another child with Santa crying. Put Christmas music on your iPod and put headphones on your child right away.

8. DON’T let someone else grab your child to put him/her on Santa’s lap. The grabbing scares a child, and when it’s a stranger doing it—it impacts the fear.

9. DON’T force a child to sit on Santa’s lap, if they don’t want too. It sends the wrong message and could make your child fear Santa in the future.

10. DON’T yell or get angry with your child, because they’re upset. That confuses them, because they know you as their protector.

11. DO comfort your child if they’re upset, and tell them “it’s ok.” Leave the area right away, but don’t panic.

12. REMEMBER there’s always next year.

You’ve heard of relatives or parents dressing up as Santa Claus? Saucedo-Falls recommends you use that idea. ” Have a family friend dress up as Santa and let your child see him put on the white beard,” adds the practicing counselor. She says that you’re not giving away any secrets by doing this, but instead making your child’s experience a good one. ” When they’re babies and toddlers, they’re not thinking he’s make believe,” Saucedo-Falls says. “They don’t reason like that yet.”

Be mindful of keeping the “Merry” in the “Christmas”, because in the end—that’s what it is all about for the whole family. And with a little preparation, you can capture that merriment in a photograph.