Santa's Blog

Why Forcing Kids to See Santa Is a Bad Idea

We saw plenty of tears from toddlers trying desperately to escape the jolly old elf

Posted By- Khyati Rathod | Posted On - Nov 27, 2019

Last year my daughter requested to sit on Santa’s lap for the very first time. It was good that she talked to me this first time ever and want to sit on Santa’s lap. She was 7, and she was ready for that. We went to visit the big guy during low traffic time. She doesn’t like to be the center of attention, after all, we just wanted to be 20 minutes. We saw plenty of tears from toddlers trying desperately to escape the jolly old elf. My daughter was visibly upset by what she saw. “Why do kids have to sit on his lap?” she whispered over and over again. 

Yes, we also say that there are countless children that sit on Santa’s lap this holiday season, and many of them will hate every second of it. There will be tears, primal screams and attempts to run, but time and time again these mini protesters will be placed back on this lap to a culture that perfect holiday picture the so-called rite of passage.

It might feel like this holiday ritual is no big deal, and you might even wonder how much kids actually remember this event. The truth is that these seemingly small moments feel significantly upsetting for the screaming toddler left in the lap of the stranger and for siblings caught in the middle. That this event is the best event for the children. 


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It's traumatizing.

Strangers and people in a costume rank high on the list of common childhood fears for toddlers and preschoolers and for good reason. While Santa looks good on paper. Some of the children are so upset by their visits with Santa that they experience nightmares and other forms of sleep disturbance for the week to come. If an experience is particularly upsetting they can even develop a fear of men with beards or glasses. 


It sends mixed messages about stranger danger.

At the moment the kids can talk, parents warn them about stranger danger. We tell them not to talk to a stranger. We tell them not to go anywhere with a stranger. We even develop code words and backup plans in case we are late for school or daycare pickup. Then we sit them on the lap of a complete stranger and implore them to smile for the camera. 

Let’s best to preface to visit with Santa with a quick chat about what will happen. Reassure your child that you will be right there, and Santa, technically a stranger is kind if your child resists, and then find another tradition to focus on this year. There are plenty of other ways to make memories.  


It triggers the worry cycle.

On this day if you have a little worrier on your hands, this is not to experiment with meeting new people. Santa visits tend to be overwhelming both visually and emotionally. Long lines tend to be loud as squirmy kids lose their patience. His house is usually large and overwhelming. We must say it is a lot to process and worries are easily overwhelmed.    

Understanding each individual child's temperament plays an important role in helping kids thrive. What works for one of your children won't necessarily work for another. You might have genuinely enjoyed visits with Santa as a child, but that isn't a guarantee that your child will feel the same.


It breaks trust.

Children love their parents unconditionally and they trust their parents to take care of them and help them when life feels hard. Leaving your child screaming and crying on the top of a stranger and yelling to your child to smile or shake it off. Or laughing when your child struggling. That can break the trust between children and parents. Sure those pictures might seem funny when they show up on the late-night television, but what kind of a message does it send your child? If you have to be there for your children.  

The single best way to raise happy kids is to teach them how to cope with their emotions. Life isn’t always easy, and kids will confront a range of emotions each day. If we teach them how to recognize and cope with their feelings, we set them up to work. If we minimize their emotions, we teach them to stuff their feelings. We leave them feeling alone in a sea of emotions. All feelings are important, and it is important for parents to put their own needs to help their kids through difficult moments.