What to do When Your Child Doesn’t Believe in Santa

The Christmas season has arrived in Kansas City and, like many of us, you’re likely already feeling the pressure that comes with the holiday season. Gabrielle, from our iFamilyKC Mom Squad team, shares some helpful hints for what to do when your child doesn’t believe in Santa AND how to handle it when your child asks if Santa exists. Take a look…

child doesn't believe

What to do When Your Child Doesn’t Believe in Santa

…and how to handle it when your child asks if Santa exists…

A couple of weeks ago we had to give our kids the annual “Don’t Ruin Christmas” speech.  For most parents, that might mean reminding the kids how to act appropriately in public, encouraging them to mind their manners, and to remind them that Santa Claus is always watching. That’s not the case at our house.

My husband and I decided before we even had children that we didn’t want our kids to believe in Santa.  At the time, we both had bad jobs with really terrible hours and lousy pay.  We decided that we worked too hard to provide for ourselves to give credit to jolly Old St. Nick, who basically only works one day a year, for any gifts we gave each other or our future off-spring. Fast forward a few years.

None of our children have ever taken the obligatory annual picture with Santa.

We don’t mail letters or post cards to the North Pole.

Our kids make a list and post it on the refrigerator, and then mommy and daddy decide what we want them to have from that list. Doing this with the first kid was easy.  She caught on fairly quickly that her parents and grandparents were buying all the presents and we could enjoy the Christmas movies, the season, and the spirit without the man in the red suit.

The second kid was more of a challenge.  I’m not sure if all the Disney channel stuff got to him, but he actually tried to argue with us that Santa was real.  He wasn’t sad or heartbroken…but he did go on a mission to tell all the other kids in his class at school, and the other kids at church that Santa and the tooth fairy were both fakes…which brings me back to our car ride from a couple weeks ago. Here’s how our conversation went down:

Me: “Son, we don’t ruin the magic of Christmas for other kids.  We let their parents tell them about Santa Claus when their ready.  Sometimes kids figure it out on their own.  But it is not our job to tell them about Santa.”

Him: “These people need to know.  Their parents are out there lying to them.”

What do you do when your child stops believing in Santa?

  • Help your child understand that all families celebrate the holidays a little differently. Some families do lots of gifts for each other while others only do a few gifts for the children. Some families celebrate the holiday on Christmas Eve while others wait until the morning. Each family has their own special, and personal, tradition that works for them.  Explain to your child that it’s not okay for them to disrupt how someone else celebrates the holidays.
  • Help your child understand that Santa Claus embodies the spirit of Christmas and we can all take a part in ‘playing Santa’ around the holidays. Some families play Santa by giving gifts to another family in need, some play Santa by wrapping fun gifts and placing them under the tree, and some play Santa simply by spreading joy around the Christmas season. Santa doesn’t have to be one single person, it can be an idea that brings happy memories and fun experiences to us all in different ways throughout the season.

Your family can honor the Spirit of Santa by giving to a worthy organization like Charlie’s House, which provides free safety products for families all across the country or by donating to Wayside Waifs, an organization that houses our homeless four legged friends until they’ve found their forever homes.

  • Help your child understand the joy of make believe. In one of the last chapters of the final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry is standing near platform 9 ¾ when he sees Dumbledore, who passed away earlier in the series. Harry asks him, “Is this real or has this been happening inside my head?” Dumbledore replies, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth should that mean that it is not real?” You see, there is magic in make believe and that magic can be enjoyed by all ages throughout the holiday season.

How do you handle it when your child asks if Santa doesn’t exist?

It’s the dreaded question we all know we’ll eventually get when your child grows up believing in Santa. So, what are you supposed to do when your child asks you if Santa is real?

  • Open the door up for conversation. Ask your child what qualities they most appreciate about Santa, aside from the fact that he delivers gifts. Is it that he’s kind? Or that he works hard to spread happiness? Ask your child how the idea of Santa inspires others to have similar qualities around the holiday season. The qualities that define Santa can be found all around us, which makes it more real than ever.
  • Ask your child, point blank, what they want to believe. You’ll be surprised to discover how maturely your child will handle it when the decision is left up to them.
  • Allow them to start playing the Santa role in your household. Once your child stops believing in the man in the big red coat, invite them to be part of the tradition and to play the Santa role. The transition from believing in Santa to being a Santa helps to avoid any issues with sharing the news with other kids who aren’t ready to hear it.

From our family to yours, iFamilyKCthings to do in kansas city


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