Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus. What do you to say when your child starts to question the Big Guy in Red?
What would Christmas be without Santa Claus? Certainly half of the charm of the holiday season is the spirit of giving gifts, and there’s nobody better at it than the big guy in the red suit. But what role does Santa actually play in the emotional development of our kids? Child psychologist Dr. Robin Holloway believes St. Nick is much more than simply an excuse for giving gifts. “We all need ideals for people to look up to like Santa Claus. Someone who is good, wise, and perfectly generous like Santa can make some sort of contribution to a child’s picture of the world. And that kind of ideal figure can contribute at least in part to a child’s emotional development.”
However, there comes a time in every child’s life when the mystery and magic of Santa Claus is questioned. Children may have heard some rumors about his existence through friends or older siblings. Or they may simply be wondering how he manages to squeeze down that chimney carrying a sack loaded with toys. If your child is starting to give you the third degree about the big guy in red, fear not. A few questions about Santa Claus doesn’t always require a clear-cut answer. Instead, follow these steps on how to answer questions about the big guys in read.
1. Go with the flow. Sometimes as parents we find it hard to live on the tenuous bridge between the never-never land, and the harsh realities of life. But if we can tolerate that ambiguity and live with it, then we can go on that journey of wonder with them. As child psychotherapist Janet Morrison says, “when your child begins to wonder about Santa Claus and begins to wonder about whether there is a Santa Claus or not, I always advocate that you go with the flow a little bit.”
2. Listen to your child. Often when children ask questions, we feel the need to explain everything, right down to the finest detail. But Janet believes “you don’t have to move in there right away with a specific answer to address something in a very specific way. Listen to your child, explore with them, have fun with them. What are they thinking about? Say ‘my goodness, you’ve been thinking about this a lot, what do you think?’.”
3. Follow your child’s lead. You’ll know when your child wants a more realistic response because the questions will become very direct. In the meantime, don’t run in there and give your own agenda, and your own timetable and never decide as a parent on your own, that this is the time that your child must know. Listen. Wait. As Janet says, “you’ll know when they’re ready and when they’re really asking.”
Adapted from The Parent Report Radio Show. Any advice or information contained herein should never be a substitute for professional and/or medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. For more information please review Terms of Service.