'Is Santa Real?': How To Answer The Dreaded Question

Oluniyi Akande
Jan 24, 2024 By Oluniyi Akande
Originally Published on Apr 12, 2021
Telling children the real story of Santa opens up a door to teach them the real meaning of Christmas.
Age: 0-99
Read time: 6.6 Min

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 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 Christmas's real meaning and lessons: hope, faith, kindness, generosity, and, most importantly, love.

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 in the 1700s. The name Santa Claus came from 'Sinter Klaas', the Dutch name for Saint Nicholas. The image of the jolly, red Santa Claus who lives at the North Pole and delivers gifts to children all around the world started in New York in the early 1800s; from there, his story began 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 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 can break the news to them a bit earlier if you feel they are becoming a bit too old to believe in Santa. Most kids know 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 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 discover 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 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 ask questions about whether Santa exists, it is the perfect time to start this tough conversation. Ask your child, "what makes you think Santa might not be real?" If your child seems pretty sure that the jolly, red man isn't real, then don't 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 pressure to keep 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 direction of the conversation 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, thoughtful, 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 fact 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.  

One great way to tell your children is by letting them become their own Santa Claus.

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 start asking questions and pushing for answers. Whether they start to question it or a friend spills the beans and tells them the truth about Santa Claus, all parents will have to ask themselves if they should be lying to their kids about Santa.

It's a good idea not to lie to your children when they ask you if Santa is real but to question their thought process instead


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 determine how to 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 determine if they've already come to terms with the truth or if they might need to have the conversation later.

If your child is fairly sure that Santa doesn't exist, it's best to avoid trying to 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 fiction, so it might be a good idea to help 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 their parents 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.

We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

See All

Written by Oluniyi Akande

Doctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

Oluniyi Akande picture

Oluniyi AkandeDoctorate specializing in Veterinary Medicine

With an accomplished background as a Veterinarian, SEO content writer, and public speaker, Oluniyi brings a wealth of skills and experience to his work. Holding a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan, he provides exceptional consulting services to pet owners, animal farms, and agricultural establishments. Oluniyi's impressive writing career spans over five years, during which he has produced over 5000 high-quality short- and long-form pieces of content. His versatility shines through as he tackles a diverse array of topics, including pets, real estate, sports, games, technology, landscaping, healthcare, cosmetics, personal loans, debt management, construction, and agriculture.

Read full bio >