Tags Posts tagged with "santa"


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Chances are your social media feed is filled with photos of little kids sitting on Santa’s lap these days.  Some of them are super cute, with kids happily smiling and obviously enjoying their time with Santa; while others are crying/screaming and look truly horrified to be in the situation they’re in.  One disturbing trend I have also noticed is parents posting these photos of their terrified children with Santa, and laughing about it.  Others commenting how cute it is and making light of them being scared, as if it’s some rite of passage that all kids need to endure.  I recently saw one relative’s picture with Santa where two little girls were screaming on Santa’s lap, one desperately trying to break free from his arms.  The comment section had comments like “Love it!”….”So cute!”….”Priceless!”



Children who are scared, are truly scared.  These seemingly “innocent” encounters can actually have lasting effects on certain kids.

A recent article was published by Katie Hurley LCSW, a child and adolescent psychotherapist and parenting educator in Los Angeles, Calif. that lists the potential consequences of forcing children to sit with Santa, and she encourages parents to be mindful of them during the holiday season.

1. It’s traumatizing. Your child may love characters in costume on TV, in the movies or in a book, but in real life these characters can be larger than life and quite intimidating. Some children can be so frightened by a forced visit with Santa it can trigger nightmares for weeks after the encounter, and even cause the child to develop a fear of men with beards and/or glasses.

2. It sends mixed messages about stranger danger. We teach our children from a young age about stranger danger, and then we sit them on a stranger’s lap and expect them to have a magical moment. It sends mixed if they aren’t prepared.  Have a chat with them beforehand about what to expect when they visit Santa, and if they aren’t having it, consider focusing on other traditions.  There are lots of other ways to make memories at Christmastime.

3. It triggers the worry cycle. Some children are natural worriers, and seemingly “fun” situations to one child, may be quite overwhelming to another. Only you know your child, and if they are naturally timid, shy, or have anxiety you might want to avoid high pressure situations like visiting Santa.

4. It breaks trust. You are your child’s world.  They trust you will be there for them when they are upset or frightened.  Leaving them crying or struggling on a stranger’s lap while you laugh and snap pictures can absolutely break that trust and leave them feeling very alone and confused.  It’s not worth a cute picture with Santa.

5. It minimizes their feelings. Part of raising independent children is teaching them that they own their own emotions, and that thier feelings are valid.  When we ignore their feelings or downplay their fears by saying sitting on Santa’s lap is “no big deal” we are teaching them that their feelings don’t matter.

6. It lacks empathy. We try to teach our children compassion by listening and caring for the needs of others, yet parents who force a crying child onto a stranger’s lap are teaching them the opposite. The bottom line is, no picture or tradition is worth your child being frightened.

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A mom took to social media to tell other parents exactly what gifts Santa should and should not be giving to their children.  This photo definitely riled some parents up and created some good conversations about Christmas, Santa, and gifts.  We want to know what you think.





Here are some of the comments:

“Parent my child for me, please. I don’t like having difficult discussions with them about the nature of the world, so if you could go ahead and change your Christmas ever so slightly, that would be great.”

“I know I’m not lying to my daughter and future kids about Santa. Presents are from mommy and daddy!”

“I am a mother of 4 children and no we don’t have a lot of money and I don’t agree with this post I try to teach my kids to be thankful for what they have been given and not to worry about what others have “you should only look into others bowls not to see if they have more but to make sure they have enough” they are always going to have to deal with someone having what they don’t so it’s better we teach them to appreciate then to be jealous.”

“Why doesn’t everyone raise their kids the way they want to and have everyone else worry about their own instead of what the neighbors are doing.”


The kids in our house are almost too old for Santa, but he always brought the stockings.  Santa wasn’t the primary gift giver, but we celebrated him and enjoyed the idea of Santa.  The last few years we have instituted the four gifts of Christmas: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.  It makes things simple and they know all along our focus is not about the presents.  Of course they still get gifts from other family members as well.