Working out how to tell your child that Santa isn't real can be super tough for any parent.
When the dreaded day finally comes and your children ask you "is Santa real?" a million thoughts can rush through your mind. Do you tell the truth or do you keep the magic going for a little longer?
It can be a hard question for a family to navigate, but there is no right or wrong time to tell your children. Telling your children that their favorite gift-giver isn't real won't ruin the spirit of Christmas by any means. It's an exciting opportunity to teach them the real meaning and lessons of Christmas: kindness and generosity.
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A Brief History Of Santa Claus
The story of Santa dates back to around 280 A.D. Technically, Santa Claus actually was real, he just didn't ride around on a magic sleigh led by flying reindeer. The original Santa Claus was a monk named Saint Nicholas, who traveled around modern-day Turkey and became known as the protector of children. Today, Saint Nicholas is the patron saint for children. Santa became a household holiday tradition as far back as the 1700s. The name Santa Claus came from 'Sinter Klaas' which is the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. The image of the jolly, red Santa Claus who lives in the North Pole and delivers gifts to children all around the world started in New York in the early 1800s, from there his story started to spread and develop over the next hundred years. Eventually, Santas started taking over malls, and believing in Santa became a family tradition in almost every household.
When & How To Tell Kids That Santa Isn't Real
There's no wrong or right way for when to tell your kids that Santa Claus isn't real. You may want to keep the magic alive for as long as possible and let your child work it out by themselves, or you might like to break the news to them a bit earlier if you feel they are becoming a bit too old to believe in Santa. Most kids work out that Santa isn't real by around eight to nine years of age, but there's no harm in keeping the magic alive for a few more years.
Most kids either work it out by themselves or get told by a friend. But, if you're in a situation where you have to break it to them, working out the best way to tell your child is another challenge parents have to face and you may have to brace yourselves for a whirlwind of emotions. Each child will react differently when they find out that Santa isn't actually coming to town. Some kids may even feel proud for working it out, while others might feel a bit embarrassed for believing it for so long or even sad that their favorite gift-giver isn't real. It's a good idea for parents to let them know that their emotions are totally normal.
Let Them Come To The Realisation Themselves: When your children start to ask questions about whether Santa exists or not, it is the perfect time to start this tough conversation. Ask your child, "what makes you think that Santa might not be real?" If your child seems pretty sure that the jolly, red man isn't real, then don't try and force them to think otherwise. There's nothing wrong with allowing your children to think critically and work out for themselves that Santa doesn't exist. This way, you also don't need to feel the pressure of keeping up the lie. Some children may even feel proud of themselves for working it out. If your child doesn't seem so sure, you might like to change the conversation direction if you feel they aren't quite ready to hear the news yet.
They Can Become Their Own Santa Claus: One awesome way to break the news to your children is by telling them that they are now old enough, smart enough, and kind enough to become their own Santa Claus. This is great for older children when you feel like they are ready to learn the truth about Christmas. It is also great for children that may have had the truth exposed to them early by a friend or older sibling. Even though Santa may not be real himself, it doesn't mean that kindness and giving are any less real, which is the real point of teaching your kids about Santa, right? Your child can spread the spirit of Father Christmas through kindness and giving. Ask your little one if they would like to give one of their friends or family members a little present to start their new journey as a mini Santa Claus and spread Christmas cheer.
Tell Them The Truth About Santa: If you feel your child is getting too old and you think you should tell them the real story of Christmas, you can always just tell it to them straight. Explain to them the origin of Santa Claus, the story of Saint Nicholas, and the true meaning of Santa Claus: to spread love and kindness during the holiday season.
If you decide to tell your child that Santa doesn't exist, or if they work it out themselves, then it's also a good idea to tell them not to reveal the big secret to any of their friends or siblings that might not yet know.
What To Do If Your Child Asks You If Santa Is Real
So, how do you answer when your little one finally asks, "is Santa real?" Well, that's entirely up to you. If you feel like your child is too young and you want to keep the magic going, then you can redirect the conversation and talk about the spirit of believing, and all of the important lessons Santa can teach us. But, let's face it, it's only a matter of time before your kids will start asking questions and pushing for answers. Whether they start to question it themselves or a friend spills the beans and tells them the truth about Santa Claus, eventually all parents will have to ask themselves if they should be lying to their kids about Santa.
The answer depends on a few factors. How old your children are, and if you think they are ready to have a little less magic to believe in, can help you work out how you should respond. If your child asks you directly if Santa is real, it is best not to lie to them, but to ask them why they are asking the question and how they would feel if they knew Santa wasn't real. This can help you work out if they've already come to terms with the truth, or if they might need to have the conversation a little later on.
If your child is fairly sure that Santa doesn't exist, it's best not to try and force them to believe, even if you want them to believe in the magic for a bit longer. In most cases, the kids asking these questions are already starting to tell the difference between what is real and what is fiction, so it might be a good idea to help give them a push them in the right direction by telling them the truth. Another positive note to telling them the truth is that they'll know that it was actually their parents that have been spoiling them with presents for all of these years and will appreciate you even more.
If you do decide to tell your child, they might be a little devastated, let them know that it is OK to be sad. A lot of adults will even remember how devastated they were when they found out that Santa wasn't real, but that certainly doesn't mean the spirit of Santa has to end there.
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The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.