Four tips for introducing your child to Santa
Meeting ‘Santa’ is supposed to be a magical moment, but for some kids greeting a big bearded stranger can be scary. Here are some tips to help avoid the tears and fears.
Prepare your child and yourself
For many parents the idea of their child meeting ‘Santa’ for the first time brings back great memories of their own childhoods. But imagine getting the kids organised, finding a car park and waiting in line, only to have your child freak out at the last minute. It’s more common than you think and it can be disappointing for the whole family.
It’s important to manage your own expectations. Remember, Santa is a stranger to all of you, and it’s normal for children to show a healthy degree of caution. Many kids are shy around family friends, let alone a man dressed in a red suit with a funny white beard who they’ve only seen on television!
Try watching a few Christmas movies with your children before you visit Santa in person; and talk to them about what they expect and discuss any fears or concerns. Perhaps you can take a walk through the shops and point out the big man from a distance before the real visit. And having a few photos of Santa about the house that the kids can look at in preparation can also be a big help.
By enjoying the excitement and anticipation leading up to meeting Santa together, it can help take some of the pressure off you, and your children.
It’s not all about the photo
Some families may feel pressured to get that perfect family photo with Santa, but this is real life, and what’s that saying about working with kids and animals?
Try making your visit to Santa about the experience rather than the photo. If there is a Christmas parade, tree or windows in your local area a visit can help take the focus away from Santa and the all important photo, for you
and the kids!
When it comes to meeting ‘the big man’ why not let your child decide how they’d like to interact with him? If you let them take the lead on how they interact with Santa, you may be surprised by how brave they are.
Try to forget about the photo, everyone else waiting, and your own expectations. This is yours and your child’s moment with Santa, so do your best to make it special for them.
For many young children, Santa is equally exciting and scary, and for some children it’s enough to simply see him. Try to enjoy the experience with your child, rather than focus on the end result.
Channel your inner child
Actions often speak louder than words and if you’re not excited about Santa too, it’s likely your kids will feed on this vibe. It’s not always a case of shuffling the kids towards Santa and hoping for the best.
If your child is afraid, try showing them it’s ok by talking with the big man first. Perhaps you could tell Santa what you’d like for Christmas, or introduce your children to him. If you match their excitement level it could go a long way to making the meeting a success.
Try coming armed with gifts and conversation starters. Putting the Christmas tree up before the visit can be part of the ‘Santa experience’. It helps build anticipation and gives them something to tell him about in person. Drawing a picture to give to Santa or writing a wish list can help children focus when the nerves kick in.
Make the wait to see Santa part of the fun
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While the idea of standing in a line at your local shopping centre may not sound like your idea of fun, for children it can be all part of the Christmas fun.
Why not use that time to build the anticipation about meeting Santa. When you catch a glimpse of him, talk about what you see and what your child might like to ask him. The reindeers might be a hot topic, or perhaps it’s the sled? Every little distraction will help.
Try to pick a ‘quieter’ Santa at one of the smaller shopping centres to avoid lengthy wait times. Some Santas will even allow you to pre-book!
Early in the morning or late in the afternoon can also help you dodge some of the crowds. Try to plan your visit around nap and meal times so that your child is well fed and rested. And don’t forget the all important snacks, books and games for those moments when the wait gets too much.