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Tips for Meeting Santa (Without Tears)

Tips for Meeting Santa (Without Tears)

Liam officially met Santa for the first time this weekend. He’s seen Santa quite a few times at various Christmas-themed events, but this was his first time doing the whole “sit on his lap, tell him what you want for Christmas and take a photo” deal. I wasn’t quite sure how it was going to go for a few reasons. First, Liam is a little shy around new people, particularly new adults. He tends to run between my legs when an unfamiliar adult engages with him for the first time, nevermind an unfamiliar adult with a big beard and a bright red suit who wants him to sit on his lap. Also, bad Santa moments seem so common it’s almost become a cliche. Ellen DeGeneres has even dedicated a feature and a photo album to displaying some terrible (and hilarious) Santa pictures.

I’m happy to report all went well. Liam walked right up and sat on Santa’s lap reciting his list and telling him what a good boy he’s been. We even got a not-so-terrible picture from the moment. If you’re thinking about bringing your little one to meet Santa for the first time, here are some tips I’d share based on our experience.

Tips for Meeting Santa

Little boy on Santa's lap1. Wait until they’re old enough to “get” Santa. At three, Liam is getting the concept of Santa this year. Understanding that this is the guy who brings you presents on Christmas morning went a long way toward elevating any stranger anxiety that I’m sure he would have had at a younger age.

2. Skip the mall Santa. Lines and crowds are tough for kids and expecting good behavior after the usual mall Santa ordeal is a recipe for disaster. We went to a Santa brunch where Santa was available throughout the two hour window, giving plenty of time for each kid to meet Santa when they were feeling comfortable and ready and without spending more than a minute or two waiting. I also saw a few families go back for a second try with Santa during the course of the event – taking some of the pressure off the moment if things don’t go well at first. Look for something more free-form like this if you’re not sure how your child will do.

3. Practice/Role play. Since Liam tends to be shy around unfamiliar people, I always try to prep him as much as possible before walking into new situations which seems to help him tremendously. With Santa, we talked about exactly what would happen and practiced him talking to Santa and telling him what was on his list so Liam would know exactly what to expect from the situation.

4. Take the list pressure off. A friend told me about a bad experience she’d had with the Santa visit – her daughter forgot what to ask Santa for and started to cry because she thought that meant she wouldn’t get presents that year. I made sure to tell Liam beforehand not to worry and that we’d also send Santa a note with what he wanted so Santa would be sure to remember everything.

Do you have any additional tips for making the Santa “meet and greet” process easier for kids? Share them in the comments area below.

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