Find Out Why They Are Asking
Your child may have heard something at school or they may be old enough that parts of the Santa Clause myth appear illogical. Remember, if they are thinking about the reality of Santa Clause, they are showing some excellent critical thinking skills. Praise them for this. Whatever the reason for their doubt, knowing it can make handling this situation easier for you.
Ask What Your Child Thinks
Just because your child is asking about Santa Clause does not mean they are ready for the answer. If you ask what they think, you can determine if your child is ready for the whole truth both cognitively and emotionally. If your child still expresses belief, you may wish to wait until their doubts are real.
Be Honest With Your Child
It is very important that your child trusts you. If they are seeking information about Santa, you can tell them about Saint Nicholas, how he was a real person and origins of traditions we celebrate at Christmas. In this way, you are creating building blocks that can help your child deal with the world of make believe – the word of unicorns, fairies, and elves. Many children discover the difference between real and make believe around the age of six or seven, and are seeking honest answers to clarify the difference between reality and fantasy.
My husband and I never perpetuated the myth of Santa Clause. I our household, we told our children from the beginning that Christmas was holiday people celebrated to share their love and to give gifts. We had a Christmas tree, presents, and even pictures on Santa’s lap. We just never pretended Santa Clause was real, so the question never came up.
Apologize If Necessary and Reassure Your Child
For some children, finding out that Santa is not real makes them cry or become angry. Apologize that they feel bad about finding out the truth, but that make-believe is fun. Remind them how much fun it has been believing in such a wonderful story and how your whole family has enjoyed Christmas and that you will continue to do so. You may wish to share with your child how you found out that Santa is not real. Give hugs and reassure your child that they will have the same fun experiences with their children when they grow up. Sometimes it helps to substitute some more “grown up” holiday traditions to take the place of Santa. Giving to those less fortunate is an excellent choice and teaches the real meaning of Christmas.
Tips for parents when your child asks if Santa Clause is real:
Whenever you have to answer the question about Santa Clause’s reality, you will also have to explain that many of their friends still believe in Santa and it is important that they let them find out the truth from their parents. Emphasize how much fun your family has had pretending Santa is real and that they should not spoil their friend’s fun. With honesty and compassion, you will be successful in dealing with your child’s doubt when they ask, “Mom (Dad), is Santa Clause real?”