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Is Santa real? How parents can help children understand who Santa Claus is

ByTiffany ReyesDecember 14, 2022
Family having fun wearing Santa hats at Christmas
For many Filipino families, Santa Claus is an essential part of Christmas celebrations. He’s all over shopping malls, featured in Christmas wrappers, ever present in holiday greeting cards. Children line up to see him up close, and whisper their wishes. Some kids even write to Santa and ask that their letters be sent to the North Pole!
Toddlers see Santa as the friendly grandpa in red while school age children will begin asking if he is even “real.” If you have multiple kids in the house who may have different perceptions about Santa, or you’re torn on how to make the magic of Christmas be felt without feeling guilty about having to lie, then read on.
Choose to introduce to Santa
Some child-rearing schools of thought do not introduce Santa Claus. In the Montessori way, which does away with fantasy characters until the child is around 4 years, the concept of introduction to Santa is often a point of debate. Some mamas however note there are exceptions.
For child psychologist and blogger of The Montessori family Carine Robin, Santa does not exist in real life but St. Nick, of which the concept supposedly originated from, was a real figure.
“In our family, we don’t pretend that Santa Claus exists. Full stop. No elves, no gift from Santa, no cookies and warm milk… Nothing like that. But now that my daughter is 9, we read the story of St. Nick, I explained to my children who were St. Nicholas, that he is celebrated on the 6th of December. That he was kind to people and children of his time and he was well known to give gifts, anonymously,” she wrote.
You may choose this path early on, so no need to tell what others perceive as lies that we make to please our children.
You may also make Santa simply a story character like the Snowman or Rudolph the red nosed reindeer. Use finger puppets for a fun story time.
Do not use Santa as a threat to naughty kids
While it is effective to make children listen, using Santa’s gift to threaten misbehaving children is not a good idea. Yes, the song asks if you’ve been naughty or nice, but that doesn’t have to be part of how we raise our children. Gifts are not to be earned – they’re our love language and not a form of reward or punishment.
Children are smart individuals and may even wonder why Santa is extra generous to other kids (or those who have richer parents). This may make them think they have not been good enough. The solution? Tell them that gifting must not be based on price. It’s really the thought that counts.
Break the news
For children 5 and above, maybe you can start telling them Santa isn’t real by gifting an item that they know you bought yourself. That’s how I found out – jeans that my grandma bought at the mall were wrapped and presented to me as a gift from Santa.
You may also do the funny way – dress up Dad as Santa and make a face reveal just before the gift opening. Consider the age of your children before trying this, as this could ruin the Christmas experience.
Focus on the real star of Christmas
For Christian families, celebrating the birth of Christ focuses on the infant baby Jesus. Start with story books to introduce your child to the baby Jesus in the manger. You can even list the concept down in alphabetical order with the ABCs of Jesus’ birth.
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