Skip to content

    Health & Parenting

    Font Size
    A
    A
    A

    When Santa Stops Being Real

    When your child starts guessing the truth about St. Nick.

    Follow Your Child's Lead continued...

    "A friend of my son's spilled the beans about Santa last year," recalls Caroline Jennings of Bellevue, Wash., mother of a seven-year-old. "Ian came home asking if we are really the ones who buy his Christmas presents. We made a joke of it and said, 'You know we're too cheap to buy you presents!' But we also asked him about what he thinks. What it came down to is that Ian knows there's no Santa, but he really doesn't want us to come out and say it and ruin his holiday fantasy."

    Just as kids give you signals when they're ready to give up Santa, they also let you know when they're not. "If your child isn't ready to hear the truth, they simply won't accept it -- or if they're very young, they may truly not even comprehend what you are saying," says Egger. She knows from experience: When her children were six and three years old, she inadvertently read them a story that explicitly said there is no Santa. When the story was over, she found that the message hadn't registered with either child.

    Carrying on the Christmas Spirit

    Elliott and Egger agree that the key issue is not so much when to break the news to your child -- his peers will probably take care of that -- but how to convert the belief in Santa into other expressions of the holiday spirit.

    "Tell your child that the rituals associated with Santa are just one way of expressing the joy of giving and your love for them," says Egger. "If you have younger kids, let the older ones be responsible for stuffing stockings and being Santa's helper."

    This year, my son Justin still wants to put out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve, but he also wants to be the one to put the jingle bells in the fireplace for his six-year-old brother, Drew. He wants to play Santa himself, too, and donate some toys to a day care center for homeless children. I think a part of him will always believe in Santa, but he's also finding more mature ways to express the Christmas spirit.

    1 | 2

    Today on WebMD

    Girl holding up card with BMI written
    Is your child at a healthy weight?
    toddler climbing
    What happens in your child’s second year.
     
    father and son with laundry basket
    Get your kids to help around the house.
    boy frowning at brocolli
    Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
     
    mother and daughter talking
    Tool
    child brushing his teeth
    Slideshow
     
    Sipping hot tea
    Slideshow
    Young woman holding lip at dentists office
    Video
     
    Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
    Article
    rl with friends
    fitSlideshow
     
    tissue box
    Quiz
    Child with adhd
    Slideshow