Look for signs your child is curious about Santa's true identity
Has your child begun to ask questions about the jolly fellow, perhaps even the direct inquiry, "Is Santa real"? Or maybe your son or daughter has noticed Santa's voice or size differs from store to store. (This is what your mall Santa won't tell you.) These types of questions could indicate your child is ready to further the discussion about who Santa really is.
Talk about the tradition of Santa in your family
For Özlem Jones, two of her children had their "Is Santa real?" moment when they began to doubt Santa's ability to travel to every child's house in a single night. "It was math that helped them discover the truth," she said. She then told them they had joined "the grownup world." In her family, it was important to keep the tradition of Santa alive. "You have a responsibility, just like us, to keep the hopes of little children going," she told her older kids. You could also use this as an opportunity to add a new holiday tradition, like one of these Christmas traditions from around the world.
Let your children in on a special secret
While the older children know Santa isn't real, Jones' youngest son is eight, and he still believes in Santa. The older siblings have become keepers of the Christmas secret, and they now help make Christmas special for their younger brother until the day comes when he begins to wonder "Is Santa real?". "That's the beauty of the relationship we have in our family. A positive vibe is very important in our household, and we work together to make Christmas a magical experience for all of us," Jones says. Watching the best Christmas movies for kids or telling stories about their favorite Christmas characters is a great way to keep that magic alive.
Don't make Santa a huge focus for your family
For some parents, pushing your children to believe in Santa may feel like lying. Such was the case for Sharon Montieth. The Montieths wanted their kids to always know that Santa was simply a fun, cultural story to enjoy, but he wasn't a real person or a big part of their family traditions. Rather than instilling a belief in a jolly gift-giver, they chose to center their holiday practices around their faith. Try practicing these simple ways to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
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Some children will learn the truth from their friends or older siblings
For many kids, their friends or siblings will break the news to them that Santa isn't real. When this happens, reassure your kids that the story of Santa is just one way among many to celebrate the love, happiness, and the giving spirit of the holiday. Remind them of the other rituals your family implements (things like baking cookies together or stuffing stockings) to ease the confusion or sadness of this childhood transition. Be sure to use these genius Christmas cookie hacks for your next baking session.
Prepare yourself that every child will have a different reaction to the truth about Santa
On Psychcentral.com, it's suggested some kids will respond to the news with relief as their suspicions are confirmed. However, other kids may feel angry, betrayed, or unhappy when they get an honest answer to "Is Santa real?". If your child reacts negatively and even gets angry at you, here's how you should respond. Psychcentral encourages parents to talk through the situation with sympathy and understanding and work to reassure children that Christmas still continues even if there is no Santa.
Allow your children to experience the happiness of gift-giving
Older kids can wrap gifts for younger kids, or they can wrap gifts for their friends or neighbors. When children participate in the gift-giving process, they learn Christmas doesn't rely on the work of one individual, but on the work of many people coming together to make beautiful memories. Get your kids involved by making these adorable ornaments to give as gifts.
Keep the holiday spirit and Christmas festivities fun and lively by trying something new
As children get older and grow out of the Santa story, it's a great opportunity to create new family traditions. Finding creative ways to volunteer, like bringing gifts to a nursing home, feeding the homeless, or visiting your local children's hospital, will demonstrate a new expression of the Christmas spirit to them, help others less fortunate, and keep the magic alive for years to come.
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