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Cure your child’s fear of Santa

Does your child burst into a fit of tears every time you need to head to the mall for some (more!) Christmas shopping for fear that you’ll pass by Santa’s workshop?

Turn that frown upside down.

Introduce the concept of Santa

Long before heading to the mall and waiting in a long line to meet the man in red, introduce the idea of Santa to your little one. Watch age-appropriate Christmas cartoons, read books with vivid pictures of Kris Kringle and explain why it’s OK to sit with Santa at holiday time.

Don’t force it for your sake

Why do you really want your baby to sit on Santa’s lap? To ensure she gets that coveted rattle that she wants or so you can get that perfect photo for your album and your Christmas cards. We’re thinking the latter. Yes, Baby with Santa pictures are darling. Even the ones with Baby sobbing or trying to tear out of Santa’s arms are kind of hilarious (just sayin’) but don’t torture your child for the sake of a memory… for you.

Take it slow

Instead of just plopping your young child on the lap of an intimidating stranger in a red suit, visit Santa’s workshop during an off time when he’ll have some time to help your child feel comfortable or consider taking a group photo of your whole family (Mom and Dad included!) with Santa. If your child starts digging in his heels before you even approach, try again another day.

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Give your child the benefit of the doubt

Accepting candy and sitting on the lap of a total stranger defies everything you have taught your child about stranger danger. So if he shows hesitation about approaching Jolly Old Saint Nick, be happy that your warnings about talking to strangers have sunk in. Rejoice!

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Skip the “real” Santa

Instead of trying to capture the ideal picture of your little ones with Santa, create a special photo op elsewhere.

Imagine the smile on your baby’s face as she touches snow for the first time. Or put an oversized Santa hat (and little else but a diaper) on Baby for a cute nod to Kris Kringle sans the tears. Take a picture of toddlers building a snowman or on Dad’s shoulders putting the star on the top of the Christmas tree.

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Remember to celebrate the season in other ways besides visiting Santa. Enjoy driving around looking at Christmas lights, attending local holiday festivities or parades in your neighborhood or simply snuggling up by the fireplace with some good Christmas books.

More on Christmas traditions

The truth about Santa Claus: When should you tell the kids?
3 Fun holiday traditions to try this year
Christmas Eve family traditions we love

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