Christmas is such a magical time of the year. As a child, you remember the magic and the fun associated with the festive period, but as you get older, it sort of dwindles away, doesn’t it?
You may even remember when you found out the Christmas truth. But when you become parents, something happens. You become in charge of the magic. You become responsible for making memories and keeping the festivities alive. And that is a new sort of magic.
But just like it happened for you as a child, there will come a time when you need to tell your kids about Santa. Curiosity can start to creep in from as young as 9. However, it might be between the ages of 9 and 12 when your child starts asking questions.
School might be the first place they hear something different from what has been their understanding of Christmas for the past few years. It may come from social media or watching things on YouTube. The truth is hard, especially if they have been second-guessing it for a while.
So if you think you are at the stage with your little ones and the time has come to approach the topic, I wanted to share some of the sensitive ways to approach the subject and suggest a few lines that will help you cover what is needed. There will be lots of emotion, I am sure, and not just from your little ones. However, this isn’t the end of the spirit of Christmas, but more a new chapter on what Christmas can be.
When are the kids ready?
You may dread the time when you need to think about telling kids about Santa. I don’t blame you! I think most of us will remember the moment we found out and how sad it can be. But when are the kids ready to know?
Talking about Santa can be purely led by what your child has started to ask or signs they may be showing they are skeptical. It could be that they have shown curiosity from as young as eight years old but might not have asked questions. However, if you get to the stage where there haven’t been any questions and your child is in middle school, you may want to make the decision to talk to them. After all, their peers may already know, which can avoid embarrassment.
You will know in your heart when your child is ready. It can depend on their line of questioning and how much skepticism they will show.
Sensitive ways to approach the topic
If the question of whether Santa is real has become a big topic of conversation in your home, then you may want to decide on how best to discuss it with your child. Telling kids about Santa is always going to be difficult, even if they have been extremely skeptical. Many kids still hold on to that glimmer of faith. So I wanted to share a few sensitive approaches that you could take when it comes to this topic.
Find a calm place to talk
One of the first things to consider is taking them to a calm and quiet place so you both can talk properly. The last thing you want or need is a distraction. You also will want to ensure that you are away from any younger siblings who may not be ready to hear about Santa.
It is also a good idea to avoid public places as you may find that there is some emotion to be dealing with. The quiet and calm space will encourage an open conversation.
Be led by their questioning
There will never be the perfect moment to discuss the question of whether Santa is real, but what you can do is be led by your child and their questions.
It is important to be as honest as you can be. The last thing you want to be doing is answering with another myth or make-believe. This can make your child skeptical of things you might tell them in the future. If they are asking or showing signs of skepticism, it is time to be honest about it.
Talk about your own experiences
A great way to show empathy is to discuss your own experience. Perhaps share with your child how you found out about Santa. You can discuss how you felt and the experience you had, which will help to validate their own thoughts and feelings.
Explain the magic of Christmas
Explaining what the magic of Christmas is all about can help your child to look at the festive season with a different approach. Sure they will still get gifts, but Christmas is so much more than that.
Ask them for help
If they have younger siblings, you could ask them for help. Asking them to help be part of the magic and making it special for their younger siblings will give them a sense of purpose and responsibility.
Some of the things you could say
If you are unsure of what to say to your child when talking about Santa, here are a couple of suggestions:
- Explain that Santa is a symbol. He is a symbol of someone who lived a very long time ago called St Nicholas, who gave money to people who needed it.
- Play the Santa Game. You can allow your child to continue believing in Santa and write letters and visit him.
- Explain that everyone has different beliefs about what Santa represents, so it is important to be respectful of that.
- Santa has always been seen as a reminder that we need to be kind and loving to the people who are important to us. This goes for people who know us but also people we don’t who may have less than us. He was a symbol created to remind us we need to think of others at Christmas time.
Dealing with their emotions
There will be emotion and possibly grief from your child when they find out about Santa. Telling kids about Santa is not necessarily going to be an easy thing for you to do. Make sure you give them time and space to absorb and reflect.
Respect their boundaries and also allow them to be sad and express their emotions. If younger siblings are involved, encourage your older child to be part of the magic you once created for them. They can start to see how amazing it is to be on that “other side” and help.
You may also get a little fallout in terms of the myth you have been discussing for years, which is understandable. But reiterate that it is more about the symbolism of Christmas and not that it is a lie.
We hope these tips and suggestions help you prepare for telling kids about Santa.
You may also want to pop over next and read more of our ideas for Christmas activities to keep tweens involved in the spirit of Christmas.