SANTAPHOBIA?

Christmas dilemma: Santa and crying kids

By AUTUMN HUGHES
Posted 12/24/18

Parents dream of that perfect photo of their smiling child(ren) with Santa, beaming angelically at the camera lens. Visions of glorious photo Christmas cards dance in their heads. (“Take that, Kardashians!”)

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SANTAPHOBIA?

Christmas dilemma: Santa and crying kids

Posted

Parents dream of that perfect photo of their smiling child(ren) with Santa, beaming angelically at the camera lens. Visions of glorious photo Christmas cards dance in their heads. (“Take that, Kardashians!”)

But what if your child is scared of Santa? Imagine the holiday ho-ho-horror!

A quick internet search shows crying children perched on Santa’s knee from the 1940s to present day. In some photos, Santa is crying too – in other photos, the Jolly Old Elf has the thousand-yard stare of a man wishing he were somewhere else. Anywhere else.

Who could blame him, after all.

If the perfect photo of your child with Santa is just not going to happen this year, I suggest you embrace the imperfection (which is usually more interesting anyway).

Here are a few tips if your child is scared of Santa:

• Remain calm, in hopes of helping your child keep it together. Take a deep breath and realize that not everything is in our control just because we’re grown-ups. You can always get out of line and try again later.

• Remember: Santa Claus is an imposing figure, dressed in red with a face-concealing beard and a thunderous “HO HO HO!” Consider your child’s size compared to Santa’s and ask yourself, would you want a person three to five times your size getting in your personal space and asking invasive questions like “What do you want for Christmas, little boy?”

• Let your child know it’s OK to be afraid of Santa Claus because they are definitely not alone. Point out another child who was afraid, but left the experience unharmed. “See, she’s already stopped crying. And she got a candy cane!”

• Allow other families to pass you in the photo line, giving your youngster more time to get used to the idea of seeing Santa up-close. Keeping tabs on Santa from afar can help children relax a bit and steel themselves for their own encounter.

• Santa’s helpers know almost immediately which children are going to freeze up or melt down in the presence of St. Nick. They have been in the trenches and have the experience to help distract your child and make the big guy less scary.

• Look to Santa to take the lead in helping soothe anxious tots. Face it, Santa Claus has seen things – some things he wishes he could unsee – and the benefit of those experiences has made him wise and ready to help in your quest for a photo.

• Cajoling is OK, but please don’t threaten your child with losing presents or other Grinchy consequences if they don’t submit to a photo with Santa Claus. Not only will Junior shriek louder, but other parents and children around you will feel their own holiday spirit a bit stomped on, too. However, if you can bribe your child into sitting still and not crying long enough to snap an acceptable photo, go for it.

• Count any photo with both your child and Santa in the frame as a victory. So what if Susie isn’t sitting on Santa’s lap? Distract her and get her close enough so that Santa can ease into the background without her noticing.

• Hope and pray your child falls asleep in the photo line. Savvy Santas know a sleeping baby is a happy baby, and will play along by pretending to be asleep too.

• Embrace the freak-out. Accept that your child is going to express his or her feelings in that moment of crisis. And likely for several moments afterward. Days, maybe. Shrill screams can drift a long way through a cavernous mall, but don’t be discouraged – there’s always next year.

If you’ve never had the grave misfortune to see an unhappy child posing with Santa Claus, check the evidence for yourself at www.creepysantaphotos.com. You know it’s OK to laugh at those photos because the people sharing them can laugh about it – now.

Good luck, Godspeed, and Merry Christmas!


Inset Quote:

"... I suggest you embrace the imperfection (which is usually more interesting anyway)." — Autumn Hughes


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