Have you told your kids the truth about Santa Claus yet?
If you have, chances are they’re older than 8. And if you haven’t, chances are someone else did.
But eventually, kids naturally wonder how Santa visits so many houses in one night
If it’s about time to tell your kids the truth about Santa or Father Christmas, but you aren’t sure how to do it without crushing their innocence or breaking their dreams – relax!
Here’s what to look out for, and what to tell kids about Santa when they start to probe for answers.
Keep an eye out for questions, and how they’re asked.
Questioning Santa or Father Christmas is a natural part of getting older. What parents can control, though, is how they respond to them.
Once you notice the unsure questions coming more often, it might be time to figure out how to gently change things. Sometimes, it’s less about when your child is ready and more about when you are ready!
While one or two queries might not signal the end, it could be time to start preparing.
You don’t have to come out with it all right away so if your child starts asking if Father Christmas is real, most parents myself included, say ‘of course,’ and if your child seems satisfied with this, even if they start to have doubts, they may not be ready to stop believing.
But, eventually, there may be a shift in the way they ask the question. When your child says something along the lines of, ‘Father Christmas isn’t real, is he?’ it can be useful to reflect the question back to them & to ask them what they think so you can figure out where they’re at in the letting go process.
When kids are older than 8 they can think more critically, & they’ll probably tell you Father Christmas isn’t real, and especially when their peers are talking about Father Christmas not being real.
This is a good indicator they’re ready to hear the truth.
Respond kindly to your child’s emotions.
Children react differently to hearing the news about Father Christmas. Some children feel proud to have matured into this grown-up secret, others feel embarrassed that they believed for so long, some feel sad to lose the version of the Father Christmas they knew.
Just listen, support & create a safe, loving and nurturing environment. Make sure that the focus is on honesty, connection and compassion, and that’ll ensure the conversation ends kindly & respectfully as they transition into a different kind of Christmas.
Christmas can still be magical as you maintain your own unique family traditions & make memories that last a lifetime.
Focus on the Spirit of Christmas.
You can also focus on ways to keep the good feelings associated with Father Christmas going. Talk about the spirit of Christmas — the generosity, kindness, the giving, the sharing, the connecting with the whole wider family, the joy & fun as that can help keep the magic alive, no matter our age.
Here’s a lovely idea I read about that you might like to try.
It can be difficult for any child to learn that Father Christmas isn’t real.
Many years ago, mother of two Leslie Rush constructed a way to transition & move her children from receiving gifts from Santa to “becoming” Santa.
The method works by taking your child, who’s ready to learn the truth, out for a one-on-one meal. Then, you acknowledge & talk about some of the good deeds your child has done in the past year and chat about some examples of their empathetic & kind behaviour.
Finally, you break the news.
You can start off by saying that in fact, their heart has grown so much that you think they are ready to become a Santa. They have probably noticed that most of the Santa’s they see are people dressed up like him. Some of their friends might have even told them that there is no Santa! A lot of children think that, because they aren’t ready to BE a Santa yet, but YOU ARE!
Now YOU are ready to do your first job as a Santa!
Then, ask your child to choose someone they know, such as a neighbour, that they think deserves a special gift from Santa.
Your child’s mission is to secretly, find out something that the person needs, and then provide it, wrap it, deliver it —and never reveal to that person where it came from. Being a Santa isn’t about getting credit, you see. It’s unselfish giving & teaching children to be kind & unselfish.
Some examples I’ve seen are noticing that someone needs a new pair of slippers, or a case for their glasses or a book mark.
Not only does this method help children avoid disappointment, but it teaches them the importance of giving and helping others.
Teaching children that they are part of a larger community, that they can be magic and bring magic into someone else’s life, gives them the best kind of power, empathy, kindness and thoughtfulness.
Take it steady and be guided by your child’s age and maturity and readiness to receive this new message around Christmas.
This is not about rushing in to rain on their magical moments of childhood!
Then, just be ready to answer your child’s questions, but stay focused on the bigger point — which is that children can still get while becoming a giver — is not only an excellent solution to a tricky question; it has the added gift of being true.