Santa Claus has become such an embedded and important part of our culture, not just at holiday time but throughout the year. Parents often chide their kids even in summertime that “Santa’s always watching,” and, of course, parents dutifully help their kids leave cookies, milk and carrots (for the reindeer) on the hearth before heading to bed on Christmas Eve.
But the Santa ruse can only last so long. And, eventually, you’ll have to tell your children the truth. Wondering how to tell your child Santa isn’t real? You’re not alone. While every unique family needs its own unique way to have the conversation, here’s a look at some effective ideas you can put into practice as you plan your conversations with your kids.
Tips for How to Tell a Child About Santa
There’s no right or wrong answer when you’re wondering how to tell your child about Santa. But, you can always learn from the experiences of those who have gone before you. And, with that in mind, here’s a look at 7 tips for how to tell a child about Santa:
1. Search for Signs
Your child will eventually become curious as to whether or not Santa Claus is real. This is just part of growing up and maturing. If someone doesn’t plant doubt in their minds, they will begin to doubt themselves. After all, at some point a child gets old enough to wonder why Santa hangs around the local mall each year.
Use that curiosity as an opportunity. When you start to see signs that your child is curious about who Santa really is, that’s your change to have a conversation about it. Your child will be as ready as ever.
2. Pick the Right Age
Even if you’re not seeing signs your child is curious about Santa, there comes an age where you need to have the conversation anyway. Aim for between ages 5 and 7. This is the time when kids are entering school, and some of their classmates will begin to tell them that Santa isn’t real.
In fact, some kids will even tell other kids about their parents having “the conversation.” This is going to happen sooner rather than later, and wouldn’t you rather be the one to tell your kids about Santa?
3. Stay Away From Christmas
Here’s a tip that many miss: Try telling your child about Santa during summertime or another time of year that’s nowhere near Christmas. This separates the startling truth from the emotion of the actual holiday.
If you tell your child about Santa right before Christmas, it could end up ruining the holiday for them. Plan ahead and tell your child well before, and the months before Christmas will give them time to adapt and get used to the idea that Santa isn’t real.
4. Go Beyond Just Santa
There’s more to the Santa conversation than just Santa. The Santa conversation might be a good chance to tell your child that the dressed-up characters they see at Disneyland aren’t real either, that the Easter Bunny isn’t real and that there’s no Tooth Fairy.
Sound harsh? It might be. But telling your kids that Santa isn’t real might lead to a flood of other questions, and it’s best to deal with them all at once.
5. Focus on the Spirit of Things
The Santa conversation is a time to talk about the spirit of Christmas. Specifically, it’s a time to help your child transition from being purely a “getter” at Christmas to also embracing the idea of being a “giver.”
You can even talk to your child about people who don’t have anything at Christmas. And, if you’re in a position to help, consider using your child’s first Christmas without Santa as a chance to adopt a child or family in need — and to become their personal Santa by buying them gifts.
6. Make it a Fun Secret
Do you have multiple kids? It might be fun to make the Santa conversation a secret. If you frame the entire conversation as a can-you-keep-a-secret discussion, your child will feel like a co-conspirator rather than a kid who just had the rugged pulled out from underneath.
7. Roll With the Punches
There’s no telling how your child will react to finding out that Santa isn’t real. He or she might tell you that they knew all along. Or, he or she might break down into tears.
Be prepared for either extreme, and roll with the punches no matter what happens. This is just one of those moments that all kids and all parents go through, and be assured that everyone will survive it and come out OK on the other end.
Final Thoughts on How to Tell Your Child Santa Isn’t Real
There’s nothing better than helping your child embrace a role as giver during Christmas. No one wants to raise a child who is expectant and selfish. And this conversation about Santa is the ultimate teaching moment — a real chance to help your child think more about others and less about himself or herself.
Did you try a different method for telling your child Santa isn’t real? Let us know in the comments section below, or you can always send us a message through our contact form.