Christmas should be an exciting and magical time for young children. As adults, even we can get wrapped up in all the excitement. However, for some children, all the lights, changes to routine, and magic can be overwhelming. On top of this, they find out that a complete stranger is going to break into their house on Christmas Eve by coming down the chimney. Even worse, this complete stranger has been watching them and judging their behaviour all year. Sounds pretty scary when it’s put like that, doesn’t it? So, for some children, Santaphobia is a real thing.
Dreams Beds have put together some advice on how to deal with Santaphobia. Here’s a basic overview of what they say:
What Makes Children Scared Of Santa?
Most children that are scared of Santa are young. They usually grow out of this fear as they learn that Christmas is an exciting time of year. However, for toddlers Santa can be quite a scary figure.
Firstly, toddlers are starting to feel emotions in a way that is completely different to what they are used to. However, they do not have the coping mechanisms in place to deal with emotions such as fear. This manifests itself as the “terrible twos” with tantrums and tears. As they grow, they learn how to deal with their fears. But with these new feelings and everything that goes on at Christmas, it can all get a little too much.
Another reason kids might develop a fear of Santa is that there is a lot of confusion for them. Throughout the year, you are telling them to beware of strangers and to be careful. But this stranger, Santa, is not only welcomed with open arms but even encouraged to break into your house through the chimney. This sends very confusing signals to your children. Couple this with the fact that every Santa your child meet is likely to be different, yet it’s meant to be the same person. The inconsistency can completely overwhelm a small child causing them to have a fear of Santa.
Lastly, Santa is held up as such an important figure that this can be daunting for your little one. His opinion of your child’s behaviour is so important and puts pressure on them. Meeting this figure can trigger a lot of emotions that your young child doesn’t yet know how to deal with.
How To Help A Child With A Santaphobia
Although children usually grow out of their Santaphobia by about 5, whilst they are dealing with the fear, you will have to give them a little support.
It may be tempting to tell your child that Santa isn’t real, but this will ruin the magic for years when they have gotten over this fear. Instead, reassure them, tell them that Santa can take a bit of getting used to, but that’s ok. Showing awareness and acknowledging the fear is a big help.
You should also allow your child to take the lead when it comes to Christmas. It may be tempting to throw them in the deep end to get them over their Santaphobia, but this isn’t a good idea. If you force them to meet Santa before they are ready, you’ll only get pictures of your child crying whilst sat on Santa’s knee and this reenforces the negative feelings surrounding Santa for your child.
Instead, tell them how exciting it is to meet Santa and give them some encouragement. But also discuss other options. If they would rather do something else, let them. Giving them this control will not only help them to get over their fear, but also helps to equip them for being comfortable talking about their fears and saying no, something even adults struggle with.
If you are concerned that your child is developing a Santaphobia, introduce the concept earlier in the year than the run-up to Christmas. With so much going on, they don’t have time to get used to the idea of Santa if he’s only mentioned when everything else is happening. If you can bring him up earlier in the year it gives your child time to get used to Santa and to ask any questions that they have.
In conclusion, a fear of Santa is a completely natural part of development for some children. If your child has a Santaphobia, the best thing to do is to give them time to grow out of it. Let them decide when they are ready and don’t force Santa on them. Eventually your child will come round to the idea as the excitement builds.