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Good Housekeeping
Trina Tanjangco-Cruz, Contributor
December 23, 2011

5 Tips for Telling Your Kids the Truth about Santa Claus

Before your child hears about Santa not being real from others, explain the truth to avoid feelings of hurt or betrayal. By Trina Tanjangco-Cruz
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Part of what makes Christmas so special for kids is the anticipation of having Santa Claus come to town. They write letters to Santa asking for their hearts’ desires—and they often find exactly what they want in their stockings or under the tree on Christmas morning. One Christmas Eve tradition is leaving milk and cookies out for Santa to snack on after all the hard work he does bringing presents to children all over the world. Zealous dads may even choose to dress up as Santa 

The problem is that children are inquisitive and perceptive. Most of the time, they find out about the Santa Claus issue from peers and not not parents, which can cause confusion or even feelings of betrayal for having been somewhat creative with the truth. We all want to shield our children from unnecessary hurt and explain the situation ourselves. So how do we deal with the big reveal? Read on for tips.


Some children start to doubt the existence of Santa Claus on their own. They ask logical questions that are quite difficult to answer without admitting the truth. This is an important clue as to when to do the big reveal. Age alone doesn’t dictate when the child must be told. Listen to their views about the existence of Santa Claus and find out what their peers have to say about the matter. Asking will give you an idea of where your child is, both emotionally and intellectually. Your children may encounter other kids who do not believe in Santa or have already been told the “truth.” This should give you an idea of whether or not it is time for them to learn the fact that Santa does or does not exist. If the child still absolutely believes in Santa, despite any outside doubts, it's not yet time.


Before divulging the truth to your children, ask them questions. Ask them what their views about Santa are. What do they know about Santa? Why they no longer believe that Santa exists? This should give you the atmosphere of the discussion. Knowing what they know will lead you toward the right direction in which to take the conversation. Once you have physically broken the news, be prepared for any and every emotion. Laughing, crying, disbelief, and anger may all come your way. No emotion is wrong. It is best to simply comfort and console your child based upon their reaction. Apologize if your child feels angry or betrayed and fully explain why the truth was not revealed earlier. 


Aside from informing them that it is you leaving them the gifts under the tree, it would be nice to explain who Santa Claus is exactly. The story of St. Nicholas or Santa Claus is vast and varied. Santa is known the world over by many different names and faces, but one fact remains--he has a generous and kind spirit. Telling them the story of Santa Claus that inspired you to symbolize Santa’s generosity by leaving gifts for your kids under his name may help them understand the tradition better. If you too were raised by your parents believing in Santa, letting them know how you found out about Santa and how you felt when you were told about the “truth” will also be helpful.  


Reassure your child. Impress upon him that Christmas is still a joyous occasion despite their knowledge about Santa. Christmas may partly be about receiving presents, but it is also a time of giving. Sharing and giving not only material possessions but love, joy, and kindness are qualities that embody the being of Santa and should be remembered and practiced throughout our lives. 


It would be nice to continue the tradition of Santa for your other kids. Recruit your child as Santa’s helper—the conspiracy of stuffing the stockings and munching on the cookies while everyone else is asleep will not only give you bonding time but will also encourage your child not to share the “truth” he’s learned with his younger sibs. 

You should also explain clearly that he must not be the one to tell other siblings or peers the truth about Santa. Let him know that Santa symbolizes generosity and kindness, and his spirit becomes real when we perform acts of compassion and giving toward others. Santa is present the whole year round when we do random acts of gentleness, thoughtfulness, and generosity. Tell them to keep Santa alive in their hearts by doing simple yet caring and loving things for others.       

(Photo source: sxc.hu

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  • Sheila D. Pecaoco Feb 13 2012 @ 09:55pm Report Abuse
    Found your site and this article after Christmas, but would like to say few words about it.

    Parents/guardians have the option how to handle the Santa Claus issue with their child/children.

    I may be luckier to have started teaching my daughter when she was younger that Dada was the one playing Santa, putting stuff for her under the Christmas tree. My daughter learned very early the truth about Santa through the story I told her about St. Nick. It was my choice to do so, and glad to see the positive result.

    For confused adults dealing with children having fantasy about Santa, this write up would be very helpful.
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